Top 10 Phrases Nobody Should Use At Work...Ever

Nobody likes a cliché! Are we all on the same page about that? Here is a top 10 of phrases that we need to omit from all of our workplaces expeditiously.

1. Touching Base
[I am just] touching base [with you on] = "I am contacting you to ascertain something"

What to say instead:
"Hey, how's the project coming along?"

2. Run this up the flagpole
Let's run this up the flagpole = "Let's get feedback from management / personnel / market research about this"
What to say instead:
"Let's get feedback from management slash personnel slash market research about this."

Photo by Irene Chaney

3. Proactive
Can you be proactive about this?
This means making sure that all of your ducks are lined up in a row.

What to say instead:
"Can you be a little more liney with your ducks, row-wise?"

4. Synergy
Making sure all of your energy is lined up in a row, and flowing in the same direction.
What to say instead:
"Let's all be very energistic, proactively speaking, lined up and row-wise! Yeah!"

5. Deconstructed couscous.
"Deconstructed couscous" speaks for itself. It says "Hellooooo...I'm a dish from the Maghreb, popular in Greece, and by golly I'm postmodern - I've been deconstructing here under your desk for the last two years, in that tupperware bowl you've been looking for! Forgot about me didn't you? YOU! IDIOT! GET ME UP OUT FROM UNDER HERE AND INTO A LAB, PRONTO! AND GET ME A HOTLINE TO YOUR WORLD LEADERS!"

6. Pink Nelly
"Where is Pink Nelly?"
The nickname for work colleague Nathan Johnson.
What to say instead:
"Where's Nathan?"

7. Estonian Momma
An overweight girl from a former Soviet satellite.
[Have you seen that] Estonian Momma [working in the store room]?

What to say instead:
"The girl from Eastern Europe in Stock Control is clearly clinically obese!"

8. Paradigm Shift
Any proposals for radical change in the work culture are "paradigm shifts".
What to say instead:
"We need to hook Mother Duck by the beak and change the direction of all of our ducks."

9. Changing the goalposts
Objectives or targets that move, for example: "[The client] changed the goalposts [mid-project.]"
What to say instead:
"The client cooked the mother duck, and now he's gone running off and all the ducklings are following him in a different direction."

10.  "Let's line up all our ducks in a row."
This phrase - and any of its variations - is the worst phrase of all to use.

Lingofest Dublin On This Weekend

Quick till I tell you: There was a free-to-attend event on in the Bistro Bar of the Workman's Club on the quays at one pm today, Sahhherdeee, 18th of October. There are more than a few events taking place over the weekend, and the performance poetry in the packed-to-capacity little upper room of the pub was top notch. Check out the full programme here in PDF.


The first spoken word festival in Dublin, the Lingo Festival, takes place over this very weekend. The organisers make the claim that Irish spoken word (which I suppose is spoken Hiberno-English) is on a par with any other spoken word on the planet. I'd be in agreement. We have a tendency to transliterate our native tongue into Ang-ul-a-zay, so we do to be sure.
For instance, you will hear an Irishman say "I've a fierce thirst on me" if he's worked up a hankering for a pint of the cool black sour alcopops with the creamy head on it.

This is a transliteration (is that even the right phwackin' word?)* of the Irish "Tá [noun] orm", (which is "is / to be [noun] on me," "there is [whatever] on me". We use prepositions like verbs in Irish. So something is nagging AT our conscience, we have a terrible hunger ON us, blah blah blah, blooh blooh blooh! We do other stuff too. It's not quite as direct as the more germanic Anglo-Sassanaigh peoples speak. One part poetic, one part paddywhackery. So if you have the desire in your head to be sounding like a paddywhackin' Irishman, you'll want to be putting in a few more prepositions than is required for the effect.

No sign of a lack of concision at the event this afternoon. Bern kicked things off with some super music and poetry. I only caught her last piece, a song featuring the River Boyne, plastic paddies, and some terrific lamentations that were both profound and parodic in their patriotism.
Photo courtesy of Bern.
She covered a lot of ground in that one song, from folklore that pre-dates Christianity to the Great Recession. Very impressive. She had a certain Diane Keaton quality about her too. Check out her Facebook page for details of other gigs and her music.


Corman Lally performed. His poems were superbly delivered social commentary. One great piece took the Americans to task for claiming Irish heritage - another "plastic paddy" dig, perhaps - through President Obama's discovery of his Moneygall Offaly ancestry.
Clara Rose Thornton is an American in Ireland. A fellow Chicagoan, one hopes that she was not too offended by the Obama-bashing before she took to the stage. Although there was no muffling at the event, she was a clear and confident performer among a soft-spoken bunch, and she has the talent to reinforce her charisma. Clara has a sense of both meter and theatre; her work, absolutely tremenjuss on the page, is even better when seen live. Although there was plenty of humour from the poets, there was little glib about Thornton's work. Just a Show is available to view on Vimeo, to give you an idea of the sorta thing she does. Her poetry added an international element, ending things on a definite and powerful high.

If you can catch any of the Lingofest events in Dublin tonight or tomorrow, go go go!


*No. No, it's not.

Wowza! I recommend Raven's The Living, The Dead and Americans

The launch of Black History Month Ireland took place at European Union House, Dawson Street on October 2nd 2014. Its principal organiser, Zephrynus Ikeh, hails from Nigeria and he has been working assiduously to get the thing together for the last few months.

Zeph's had a successful run of BHM in the Rebel County for the last few years, but it's gone national for the first time with the launch in the capital.

I had the pleasure to meet a chap from California who's privileged us Irish for the last few years with his presence on the Emerald Isle. Raven performed some poetry at the event. He has a buke of poems out, and it's pretty frickin' marvellous.

Quick disclaimer: Loath as I am to discuss my own experience as a reader in such a review, I am not a big poetry buff. I took my first bash at a poem on here earlier this year. So "I just know what I like."

I like this stuff.

Some of Raven's work is socially-based, addressing issues like race.

There's also much to admire in the wordplay of much of the work here. Each poem is peppered with gems - even the shorter pieces have at least one fantastic image or line. There ain't a dud in the bunch, although I have my favo(u)rites so far, and this review could never do any of them justice, as each poem would require a closer reading than I have thusfar given any one of them.

Split in three, with The Living, The Dead and Americans making up the headings for each section, the eclecticism of Raven's inspirations is enticing: There are pieces that have a pastoral bent, poems featuring buffalo and cattle, poetry citing suburban or city settings, the Holocaust, and much else. Animals, insects, fruit, and the natural and rural worlds populate much of the content.

The Irish author Michael Collins - living in the States - has a collection of stories called The Meat Eaters. It features a gruesome tale involving suitcases full of Irish meat entering the United States. While much of Collins's work focuses on the American experience, Raven discusses rashers (bacon) and bangers (sausages) like an Irishman. Rich imagery and analogies occasionally focus on meat in the collection, be it of Irish or American origin. With the imagery sometimes of slaughter - or at least seemingly pejorative - there are a few beautiful vegetarian options here!

The erudition is worn light, but the scribe clearly has an awareness of the stuff what the English Lit professors go on about in college. Flourishes that could be regarded as postmodern, with paraphrasing or referencing of other poets sit alongside a wonderful use of homophones that invite ambiguity or beg questions.

One can tease out certain lines or phrases, and any number of superficially-clever puns or rhymes, for far deeper insights that could be grounded in any number of schools of thought - and that's just the stuff I notice from my edumacation which focused heavily on the Western tradition. There's far more to it than that - or less, depending on how you choose to read each piece. That's one of the best things about it. It does what the best poetry ought to do. And I'm sure I am only coming away with half of what I could from each piece. As I said, I'm a poetry thicko! But it is a fantastically rich collection. And ultra HQ stuff - no empty calories here.


You can buy the book now from Seven Towers:

http://seventowers.ie/product/the-living-the-dead-and-americans-by-raven/
Surprise Family & Friends alike with a / ! Laugh at their confusion! Hurray!