In 1976 the UK requested a loan from the IMF. Ever since, this event has been universally described by journalists as the UK “going cap in hand” to the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps this was once an arresting metaphor. But it soon became a drearily predictable cliché, reduced to a string of meaningless syllables. Thus does journalistic laziness impoverish our public conversation.
Something similar is now happening with writing about a no-deal Brexit. Nobody seems able to describe this possibility without writing about Britain “crashing out of the EU”. Repetition serves only to dull the effect of this originally vigorous figure of speech. Philip Stephens is just the latest to use it (“The post-Brexit price of a special relationship”, August 16).
I would also request that the FT curb the metaphorical use of “weaponise”, another expression that has lost any impact through overuse.
Dr Simon Taylor
Judge Business School,
University of Cambridge, UK
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