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Minimal depth

Posted by R. Berg on October 19, 2002

In Reply to: "All the depth of a saltine cracker" posted by Patty on October 19, 2002

: : : : : : : : : : : : There is a sarcastic expression, now a bit dated, used like this: "his analysis had all the depth of a saltine cracker". This is a U.S. expression. I wonder what similar phrases have developed in other parts of the English speaking world, and also what more recent ones may have developed in America. Thanks! - Patty

: : : : : : : : : : : I'm not sure this counts, but when Denis Healey, was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe, a Tory attacked his budget proposals in parliament. Healey said it was "rather like being savaged by a dead sheep." I always rather liked that one.

: : : : : : : : : : Howe got his own back on Healey by saying a beating from Denis was like "being cherished by a dead savage."

: : : : : : : : : Hmmm... Interesting stuff. But the phrase I brought up is more sarcastic toward the reasoning or the argument, more a matter of a lack of profundity (shallowness) in something put forward. The phrases suggested so far are more ad hominem, I think. Maybe I'm more interested in phrases refering to shallow expressions or statements, of which even intelligent people are sometimes guilty. - Patty

: : : : : : : : I see your point. The only think I can think of - at least in my own experience is the expression, "That's a no-brainer." As a response to a very poor argument or proposal. I don't think that's quite what you mean though. Given the state of debate both here and in the UK, you'd think there would be more expressions for this.

: : : : : : : Maybe the state of brains explains why there aren't.

: : : : : : Interesting. I've always used "no-brainer" when one choice was so much better or obvious than another that it was a "no-brainer" to choose it.

: : : : : ...which is exactly the only way that I have ever used it - albeit I confine this phrase to the workplace. It's an admittedly hideous term to find oneself using, and ranks with such horrors as quantum leap and paradigm shift etc. However, my excuse is that I fairly frequently have to have meetings with Microsoft management, and such phrases form part of the only language that they understand.

: : : : I will take a leaf from your book and use it when dealing with that sorry bunch of slogan purveyors. Currently I find myself muttering 'bread head' as one after the other insists on a slick, long, and detailed presentation of the obvious and unnecessary.

: : : Maybe this is a little OT, not sure. But is saying that something is shallow the same as saying that the person who created it is shallow? I'm not sure that it is, because conditions come into play when somebody makes or says something.... for instance, what the client or patron wants will have a bearing. Most of what people are suggesting as similar phrases just belittle the intelligence of a person, not necessarily what that person has created or said. - Patty

: : A few thoughts:

: : Just to go back to 'no brainer' for a minute, I've heard it used when someone who is normally fairly intelligent states the obvious. To which the reply is " Yes Stan, but that's a no brainer. We need something that hasn't been done before."

: : I thing that the distinction you are making is a fairly subtle one that isn't easy to convey using languge alone. I'm not sure your original phrase does make the distinction between a person and what he's done in an iron clad way. I could say that someone's analysis had all the depth of a saltine cracker and convey that I think that the person whose analysis it was is utterly shallow and stupid without changing a word

: : I think much of it is in the way thing are said, and for the life of me I can't think of a phrase that's used in the way you describe. Even when the intention is to say someone's work is not good even though he's generally fine, the only examples I can think of use the person as the subject - "Sheila wasn't on form." or "Lester is having a bad hair day" Maybe other people can think of better ones.

: I suppose one could say "all the depth of a tortilla" or "all the depth of a chapati".... these would work on the West Coast of the U.S. among people who like ethnic food. I don't know if they would convey much elsewhere. Opinions? - Patty

"All the depth of a Euclidean plane" should do for people anywhere who like (or even remember) geometry.

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