They certainly speed up writing or speaking, assuming everyone understands what they mean, or are in agreement as to what they mean. If you have relatives from “the old country” you know that not all old sayings translate to any culture or time period. Idioms about the broom speaking to the ash can for the donkey carrying the lettuce to the moon require more explanation than what was originally being discussed.
When you live in the South, phrases tended to stick around longer whether stale or not. Dirtman still uses the phrase, “…than Carter has liver pills” when describing a great amount of something. That Carter has not had liver pills since the 50s (the FDA required the removal of the word “liver” since it neither contained liver nor benefited said organ) and that no one under 80 understands what he’s talking about, makes no difference to him. (Interestingly, while Carter no longer has liver pills, what they had prior to being bought out in 2001, was Trojan condoms and First Response pregnancy tests. I’ll leave the reader to fill in the appropriate wisecrack.)
Not to pick on Dirtman...Oh, why not?
Another favorite Dirtman phrase is “…scared the beejeebers out of me.”
(pause for effect)
What, exactly, is a beejeeber? How many do you have? If they are scared out of you do the same beejeebers come back, or do you get new ones? Do they all go out at once or do you still have some after they are scared out of you? Do you leak beejeebers when you are only mildly surprised? And if all your beejeebers are scared out of you and you have no beejeebers left, what happens if you get scared again right away and there are no beejeebers to spew out of you? Do you die? Can one live beejeeberless? (I can do this all day.) Can you use someone else’s beejeebers? Can you donate to a sort of pool for the beejeeberly-challenged? Do dogs have beejeebers? (I think Stephen King needs to write a Beejeebers book.)
Have TV sitcom writers finally gotten it through their heads that little kids spouting annoying catch phrases drives viewers away? That includes those nasty cartoon sitcoms. The last one I remember was “don’t have a cow” so, obviously, I’m out of the loop on this one. You see, it trickles down even to people who don’t watch when all the rude t-shirts start appearing at Target in the spring.
“That’s do-able…” (…not necessarily by me, but someone is capable of doing it.)
“I’ll pencil you in…” (…so that if something more interesting to do comes along I can erase you and ink in something else. Did I mention my grandmother’s not looking so good?)
“Hi, I’m insert name here and I’ll be your server…” Now this one only bugs me for one reason. It reminds me of those hideously sexist and vaguely pornographic airline commercials from the 60s: “Hi, I’m Shirley! Fly me to
“…work outside the home…” Okay, okay. I know this phrase was adopted just for people like me because of the boorish phrase “Do you work?” as though what is done for the family is not work. But could we come up with something other than “the home”? It sounds like some sort of institution. “She’s been put into The Home, you know” or “call The Home and have him picked up.” Instead, the question should be, “Do you slavishly toil for anyone else but your ungrateful relatives?” That’s more to the point, don’t you think?
And, finally, the one phrase that could conceivably lead me to homicide. It is my personal opinion that anyone who ever said (or owned something that said) “git-r-done” should be taken out of the gene pool.