Jeffries on t’radio: fixed expressions

Your usual poster may be sunning herself working very hard away in South Africa at the moment, but this just in from Huddersfield:

“Prof. Lesley Jeffries was on air this week – talking about ‘fixed expressions’ such as ‘having your cake and eating it’.

There was a Brexit leak when an aide to a Conservative MP was photographed with this phrase on a notebook in her hand. This started a discussion about the kinds of phrases we live by and people were encouraged to phone in with their favourites. Lesley pointed out that most of these were pretty fixed (they can’t be changed) but that many modern phrases – including online memes – were of the ‘slot-and-filler’ type, with a fixed part and a part that the user can fill in. This includes, for example, ‘No one likes a …..’ where the gap can be filled by a range of different possible words such as ‘clever dick’, ‘show off’ or something more creative.

There are also new fixed expressions which are similar to the old ones because they are reminders about how to live. These include, for example, ‘check your privilege’ and ‘first world problems’. The interview on the Richard Stead programme on Radio Leeds can be heard on iPlayer for the next month at, starting at 20 minutes in.”

Hazel Price