Thursday, May 12, 2011


Every so often a phrase pops up that I hear far too often in TV dialogue. One of the first that I noticed was "He is, of course, quite mad." You'd think that one should have been unique, rarely used.

Two guys fed a ton of movie and television scripts into a computer to find out which phrase was the most often used. They went into the project with the preconceived notion that it would be "I love you."

It turned out to be "Let's get out of here."

The one that bothers me most is "It's complicated." I see it as a lazy writing crutch.

The latest one to ping on my radar is "You think I killed him?" and its variations. In fact there has been an example each week for the last three weeks. And that's just from the shows I watch.

Bennet Ahmed, one of Rosie Larsen's high school teachers, made the question more specific: "You think I killed Rosie?"

Shelley was the victim's girl-friend and she was the first on the list of suspects. "You think I killed him?"

The latest example was another teacher, Professor Jack Elliott, and he also made it specific to the victim: "You think I killed Lizzie?"

The accent can be placed on "I" if the speaker can't believe the police suspect him or her. If it's placed on "killed", that usually means the body hasn't been found yet. And if the accent is on "You think", then it's more of a statement of fact than a question.


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