cliche alert

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Four weeks ago, we reported a huge increase in the number of uses of the phrase "defining moment". "Events unfold" registered a similar rise, while considerably more things had been "unveiled" too.

We have continued to monitor these phrases and the good news is that events have stopped unfolding entirely in the past four weeks, with not a single occurrence of "events unfold". Unveilings are also down, with only 30 so far in July, compared with a monthly average of 41 earlier in the year.

The number of "defining moments", however, continues to rise with seven in the past four weeks, compared with a monthly average of less than two in 1994.

James Williams suggested that we should keep an eye on schadenfreude and leitmotif, which he says were rife in 1994, but seem to have abated this year. The figures, however (see Table 1), indicate only a small diminuendo in leitmotifs and a constant rate of schadenfreude. The figures give the number of occurrences in the Independent from 1 January to 25 July this year and last.

Nicholas Edwards claims to have spotted a recrudescence of "eponymous", but it is in fact down on the seasonally non-adjusted figures.

Brian Aldiss advises us to watch out for "grass-roots support". We found no occurrences of that exact phrase in the Independent so far this year, but the number of articles containing both words in close proximity had risen from 14 to 37. We think Mr Aldiss could be on to something.

Finally (see Table 2) we have the January to July totals of tragedies, disasters, catastrophes, cataclysms and apocalypses. While the total is up from 1896 to 2029 (a 7 per cent increase), catastrophes have fallen by 16 per cent. Numbed by too many catastrophes, we have moved to words with greater emotional impact: cataclysm is up 25 per cent, and apocalypse up by 45 per cent.

Table 1: cliche count

phrase '94 '95

schadenfreude 14 14

leitmotif 14 12

eponymous 68 63

grass-roots support 14 37

Table 2: disasters

word '94 '95

tragedy 637 646

disaster 929 1040

catastrophe 213 179

cataclysm 28 35

apocalypse 89 129