Blogs > Cliopatria > Too Many Rooms, Too Many Elephants

Aug 3, 2007 3:10 pm

Too Many Rooms, Too Many Elephants

Gregory Pence has an enjoyable article on the clichés that run rampant both inside and outside of bluebooks. It is worth a look.

The phrase that has been irritating me lately is “the elephant in the room.” It’s been around a while. I remember it coming up in therapy discussions of family dynamics and denial in the mid-1980s. That is long before this 2006 book, or this one.

Lately, a whole herd of these pachyderms have been stampeding the information superhighway (remember that one?). Just look at this recent online article, or this blog headline, or this one. There’s even a picture of the beast.

All clichés begin life as meaningful phrases, but then they have the misfortune of being pounded into irrelevancy by overuse.

This elephant has been pounded enough. Let’s put it back in the savanna. Please.

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Maarja Krusten - 8/5/2007

Interesting posting.

Pence mostly describes cliches. Too much jargon also can get in the way of good communication. It can happen in any field or profession (yes, even history). The Boston Globe ran a article two years ago on what it called the buzzword backlash:

I’ve seen many sites such as
at which people post or invite comments about the most commonly used jargon, such as “ramp it up,” “leverage the core competencies,” “picking the low hanging fruit,” etc.