Posts tagged ‘phrases’

August 16, 2019

#153) How not to complain #10/Mid-Year Language Court 2019

I am an unapologetic language douche. I love being vindicated when I learn that other people feel the same way and that I’m not the only curmudgeon when it comes to “circle back”, “gentle reminder”, “adulting” and “Sunday Funday.” As the seven long-term followers of this blog know, I live for the release of Lake Superior State University’s annual Banished Words List like Jeffrey Epstein used to live for the three o’clock bell at St. Mary’s Junior High. When I saw that Britain’s Gyles Brandreth had compiled 38 Americanisms that the British bloody hate, I knew the right thing to do was to make my wife watch my father, who requires round-the-clock care due to advanced health problems, so I could peruse the list.

I probably should have stuck with Dad.

It’s no secret that Americans are idiots. The country that gave us Bhad Babie, Teen Mom and the Cheetoh is a broad target. The problem with Brandreth’s list is that – a few legitimate items notwithstanding – it makes you wonder why he is more concerned about Americans saying “a half hour” instead of “half an hour” than he is about Boris Johnson.

By the most stringent standards I’ve ever applied to my Language Court verdicts, of Brandreth’s 38 accused, there are only 9 guilty parties none of which are felonies (although 24/7 is dangerously close). Misdemeanor convictions include “Eaterie”, “Reach out to” and “Going forward.” These are far outnumbered by terms that I only hear at the Olympics (“medal” as a verb), phrases that I’ve never heard at all, Olympics or otherwise (“least worst option”) and items that make me wonder if Brandreth is simply trying to cultivate a reputation as a quirky Brit (advocating the use of “fortnight” instead of “bi-weekly.”)

Even if I were as annoyed as Brandreth at the use of “alternate” instead of “alternative”, “I got it for free” instead of “I got it free” and “regular” instead of “medium-sized” for coffee, I would find his explanations lacking. As someone who has never been particularly upset at the use of “transportation” instead of “transport”, I’d be curious to know why it irks him. It might at least make me better empathize with him – no, I don’t bristle at the use of “a million and a half” instead of “one and a half million” but if I knew why Brandreth did, it might make me feel like I haven’t become “Get Off My Lawn” guy because I think I should have the right to legally kill anyone who refers to their family as “fam bam.” Brandreth might have been better served to focus on quality (so to speak) than quantity of his complaints; the LSSU lists typically have no more than 20 items and while I don’t always agree with what goes on and stays off them, I am usually satisfied and entertained by the explanations.

Last, I have to ask if Brandreth really believes that he speaks for all Brits. To be sure, Americans have been causing British face-palms since 1776, but somehow I don’t think their biggest problem with us is usage of “expiration” instead of “expiration date.” Dare I say, I’d imagine that most of them (see item #37) could care less.

Advertisements
January 2, 2018

#136) Language court 2018: the D-Theory verdicts on the LSSU 43rd annual list of banished words

Let me ask you this: was 2017 an impactful year or was it a big nothingburger? Hopefully you didn’t spill your covfefe while you were drilling down the tons of fake news stories over the hot water heater at the office – if so, you might have quickly learned about your company’s offboarding process. Let that sink in.

Truthfully, I was a little perplexed and disappointed by this year’s edition of Lake Superior State University’s Banished Words List. Did over use of “pre-owned” really come to that much of a head in 2017? How is it more annoying than the words and phrases that didn’t make the list? Am I really the only one who has to hold back violent impulses when confronted by the terms “Fri-yay”, “Sunday Funday”, “Adulting” and “Fam Bam?”

Oh well, I guess lists are meant to be debated, so debate we will. Because of the tepidity of this year’s list – several items did get me nodding my head but still fell short of making me say, “Thank GOD it’s not just me!” – a new level has been introduced: guilty parties will be divided into misdemeanors (annoying but not as severe) and felonies.

Court is in session. Time to unpack this list!

UNPACK

Charges: “Misused word for analyze, consider, assess.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). The charges are valid but this word will soon run its course and will be as obscure to future generations as “real gone” is to millennials.

TONS

Charges: Refers to an exaggerated quantity…”Lots” would surely suffice

Verdict: Not guilty. Maybe I’m just hopelessly out of touch but I didn’t feel over-saturated by the word “tons” in 2017. Is “Lots” really that much more eloquent?

DISH

Charges: Let’s go back to “talk about” and leave the dishes in the cupboard.

Verdict: Not guilty.

PRE-OWNED

Charges: “What’s so disgraceful about owning a new car now and then?”

Verdict: Not guilty. Like “Tons”, this one has been around and at the same level for a while; sure, it could be retired but it’s harmless enough.

ONBOARDING/OFFBOARDING

Charges: Being a creature from the Human Resources lagoon.

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). If Mike Judge decided to remake “Office Space” he would surely have some fun with this one – but like “Unpack” it will probably just soon fade into obscurity – especially as the gig economy takes over.

NOTHINGBURGER

Charges: Says nothing that “nothing” doesn’t already.

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor).

LET THAT SINK IN

Charges: “One could say, shocking, profound or important.”

Verdict: Not guilty. Yes, it’s a little preachy and ponderous, but there tons of far more preachy and ponderous things out there than this nothingburger.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS

Charges: “Just ask the question already.”

Verdict: Not guilty. These days people are jumping to conclusions without asking enough questions. Questions are important – even if they are wordier than necessary.

IMPACTFUL

Charges: A frivolous word groping for something “effective” or “influential.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). When people realize they will no longer sound hip by using this word, it will fade.

COVFEFE

Charges: Self-explanatory.

Verdict: Guilty (felony). If you reward the two year old with a poopy diaper when he has a temper tantrum, you can’t get upset when it happens again.

DRILL DOWN

Charges: “Instead of expanding on a statement, we drill down on it.”

Verdict: Not guilty.

FAKE NEWS

Charges: “Fake news” is any story you disagree with.

Verdict: Guilty (felony).

HOT WATER HEATER

Charges: “Hot water does not need to be heated.”

Verdict: Not guilty; let’s stay away from this slippery slope. Do we want the court docket clogged every time someone says “ATM Machine” and “PIN Number?”

GIG ECONOMY

Charges: “Gigs are for musicians and stand up comedians.”

Verdict: Guilty (misdemeanor). The court hopes that a slap on the wrist will prevent this (so far) minor offender from becoming gratuitously overused and making anyone old enough to remember the first Bush presidency embarrass themselves by misusing it.

What say you?

December 30, 2013

#68) 14 Expressions I’d like to see retired for ’14

Three years ago, Lake Superior State University added “viral” and “epic” to their list of banished words.  At the risk of sounding like Lynne (“Eats, Shoots & Leaves”) Truss, I’ll put out my own list for 2014.  I’ll admit that this is a first world problem (a phrase which  might, along with FOMO, go on my 2015 list if I make one but doesn’t bug me enough to make this year’s cut) but I simply find these idioms, well, for lack of a better term, annoying.  Some of them don’t actually refer to the written or spoken word but to memes (see #13).  Without further ado:

#1) “….Said no one ever.”  This will still seem fresh and hip in 2014, said no one ever.

#2) “….Wait for it….” The problem is that most of the time “it” isn’t worth the wait.

#3) Putting. A. Period. After. Every. Word.

#4) “Wait, what?” I’ll admit that most people probably don’t find this expression nearly as annoying as I do.  In further disclosure I should probably say that the root of my annoyance with this phrase probably lies in having had it used on me by someone who’s checked out of one of my rants and is trying to find their way back in out of politeness.

#5) “Who knew?” This is another whose annoyance factor is somewhat hard to explain, so I’ll just leave it at this: my blog, my rules.

#6) “…Not so much.”  Only Borat is allowed to say this, just like he’s the only one who’s still allowed to still tell “NOT!” jokes.

#7) The word “Classy” has two, and only two, syllables.

#8) “(Bygone year) called; it wants its ____ back.”  I thought this one was already laid to rest until I saw it on a billboard.  I forget what product the advertisement was for and was thinking about trying to look it up but I don’t want to give them the free press.

#9) “I know, right?”  In my defense, I’m not the only blogger who has placed this on a list of expressions that should be laid to rest.  (See #2 on this list.)

#10) Any graphic using a witty comment and Gene Wilder.

#11) Any cartoon showing Batman bitch-slapping someone.

#12) I wish people used more hashtags on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. #saidnooneever

#13) Meme.

#14) Comparisons of anyone (even Hitler) to Rosa Parks.

In case you were wondering, which I realize you weren’t, I decided to leave “YOLO” off the list because  this shorthand expression for “You Only Live Once” is so ridiculous it’s actually pretty funny.  Furthermore, people often say “YOLO” right before doing something incredibly stupid which may well remove them from the gene pool; thus the phrase may actually make the world a better place.

So there you have it: my pet peeves.  Some people wish for world peace; some for the end of famine.  I wish for this.  If I’ve left out your favorite worn-out expression, let me know.