upmarket cliches

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A friend told me with an exasperated sigh that she was sick of hearing the verb to parse being used as a synonym for to analyse, as in We need to parse the situation that has arisen.  Three times in one morning, she said.  That does seem to indicate cliché status.

 And that is the trouble with trendy expressions, they are popularised to death. This use of parse I think comes from the IT use – to break up a string of data into its components based on a desired structure. That in turn derives from the traditional grammar use of parsing sentences. There is nothing wrong with generalising parse to mean analyse but do we have to overdo it?

 Other such expressions are to tease out and to drill down. Both of them are figurative expressions, the first with the sense of painstakingly pulling something of significance out of a mess of irrelevant detail, and the second with the sense of getting below the superficial message to some deeper meaning.

 They are all of them vastly overused.

Sue ButlerComment