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St Andrews in Focus – Issue 93 March / April 2019 (See the full latest issue)

From the Editor

Flora Selwyn

For some reason I was thinking about platitudes, defined in my Collins dictionary as: ‘a trite, dull, or obvious remark or statement’. Then, idly, I clicked on Google, finding a rather long list of examples; such as, ‘beauty is only skin deep’, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘better late than never’, ‘it wasn’t meant to be’, and so on. The ensuing ‘discussion’ below it was intriguing, itself full of platitudes. Only one person wondered if alternative phrases could be found. Of course, there are many ways to express oneself, but surely platitudes exist as descriptive shortcuts readily understood by co-speakers of the language. Often derided as mere props for unimaginative people of various kinds, they nevertheless are firmly embedded in daily usage. Arguments about them are very much, “Like the bubbles on a river/Sparkling, bursting, borne away.” (pace, Percy Bysshe Shelley). How do you see them?

Flora Selwyn