Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Irritating Phrases

Last November, the Telegraph newspaper (from the UK) published an article titled "Oxford Compiles List of Top Ten Irritating Phrases," and I duly filed the link away for future use.

The time has come.

There are phrases that make my teeth vibrate, that are useless, irritating, or otherwise nonsensical. The Telegraph identified many of them, but my #1 All-Time Champion Irritating Phrase is not on their list. I'll share it with you in a minute. First, here are a few of the phrases identified by the Oxford Worthies as "irritating," with the obligatory commentary:

* "At the end of the day." We used to say things like "when it's all said and done" to refer to the conditions existing once some action was completed. I don't know when "at the end of the day" came into use, but I wish we could turn back the clock and strangle it in its crib. I can hear how the late George Carlin would have commented on this stupid phrase: "At the end of the day ... it's NIGHT, for God's sake! Get over it!!"

* "With all due respect." Translation: "You're an utter moron, so let me try to explain this to you again in words with fewer syllables."

* "24/7." This one refers, of course, to actions which take place constantly, and it has a lesser-used relative - "24/7/365" which, of course, cavalierly omits leap years. Perhaps Numeric Life, were she still on line, might have suggested why we needed to reduce it to numbers. Somehow, I just can't hear Amanda complaining that she has to change Aaron's diapers "24/7," even if she has become our new statistician-in-training.

* "At this moment in time." Translation: "Now." Any questions?

* "Fairly unique." If something is "unique" it is, by definition, one of a kind ("being without like or equal" - Websters New Collegiate Dictionary). "Fairly unique" ranks right up there with "slightly pregnant."

* "Have a good one!" Okay, this one's not on the Oxford list, but it still grinds my gears every time I hear it. The automatic (and meaningless) "Have a good day" was bad enough (I used to have a frowny-face button with the message "Don't tell me what kind of day to have!"), but now we're too lazy even to use this empty it's just reduced to "have a good one!" One of what? Have a good pork chop? Have a good root canal? Have a good ton of bauxite? You get the idea.

Okay, you've waited long enough - here's my all-time champion irritating phrase:

* "God willing." This one seems usually to be appended to some call for murder or revenge by a wild-eyed, bearded lunatic like Ayman al-Zawahiri, First Deputy Snake of al-Qaeda. You can read an example in this article: Al Qaeda Message Blames Obama, Egypt for Gaza Violence. Oddly enough, Mr Zawahiri fails to give credit to either Hamas or Israel for the horror in Gaza, and fails to realize that Mr Obama is not yet the president. I suppose this happens when you live in the sixth century instead of the 21st, and are more interested in religiously-sanctioned violence than in reconciliation and goodwill. God willing, a bomb of large size and fearsome yield will soon allow Mr Zawahiri to plead his case directly to The Deity...although the telephone connection between heaven and where he'll be is not likely to be a good one.

What are the phrases that irritate you? Let me know and I'll promise not to use them. Too often.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

LOL suddenly I'm tempted to tell you to have a good one :P

Amanda said...

I really don't like hearing people say "pretty please". It usually happens when they want you to do something that you don't want to do. Its also usually said by people who are a lot less cute than they think they are.

Related to that one is a Malaysian expression - "Come On-lah". Its also used when people want you to do something. If they are exasperated and want it done quickly, they the "-lah" would be short. But if they're doing some pleading (much like the "pretty please") then its more like "Come On - laaarrrr"

Gilahi said...

I hate it when some VP in our company tells us that they have the view "from 20,000 feet". Maybe you should get your freakin' feet back on the damn ground and look at what's going on around you instead playing "big picture" (there's another one) guy.

Malaise Inc said...

Actually, 24/7/365 is doubly annoying in it's innumeracy. It really ought to be "24/365" or "24/7/52".

Gilahi said...

Hey! Let's start a new one and just take this to its extreme. If we want to talk about something going around the clock, let's refer to it as 60/60/24/7/52.14286.

And my verification word is "catsult", which I believe is something you would say that a feline would resent.

bandit said...

Alright now, hold on just a minute, I'll tell you what, just you listen a minute, this is the way it's coming down, you better believe it, you got it now? You get my point? Nuff said! See ya on the flip side.

twinkie said...

too funny. I always say "Don't tell me what to do" when people tell me to have a nice day. ha. Of course they know I'm kidding.

The one that gets me is "You know what I mean?" especially when used after every other sentence.

Bilbo said...

Andrea - go ahead. Make my day.

Amanda - thanks for the Indonesian insight!

Gilahi - I'm with you on those! Many years ago I nearly decked a jerk who dismissed me with a cavalier, "you just don't understand the big picture."

Malaise and Gilahi - can we just skip the numbers? I'm sorry I brought 'em up.

Bandit - time to change your medication.

Twinkie - the one that kills me is "you know what I'm sayin'?", usually run together as a deeply-voiced "yuhknowwhudumsayin?".

Leslie David said...

I think my favorite has to be the Southern phrase, "bless his/her heart," which is at the conclusion of any statement, no matter how derogatory, like, "she's dumb as a stump, bless her heart." You can tell I'm NOT from the South. :)

Mike said...

I got to the part about "having a good pork chop" and now I'm hungry.

Melissa B. said...

With all due respect, this post is probably going to irritate some folks who believe they're fairly unique. At the end of the day, of course, it's those of us who pay attention to the deterioration of the language 24/7 who will suffer. God willing, some of these Boobs (of another sort) will awaken to find that using any of this hackneyed jargon at this moment in time, or at any other moment, for that matter, is not a great idea. It doesn't take a Genius to realize that On a Daily Basis, Utilize, Constantly, 'Til the cows come home, and my personal favorite, Hopefully, should be banished from the Oxford Dictionary, and any other such tomes, for that matter. The phrase For that matter should be banned, too!

Have a Good One!
Mrs. Scribe

Bilbo said...

Leslie - oh, oh...I've been known to say "Bless your heart." Will you still dance with me?

Mike - I'd have worried if you'd gotten hungry at the part about the bauxite.


John said...

Personally I like the prefix...
I tell you the truth,...

Always makes me think that the rest of the time they're lying to me.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Blue sky thinking is a cringer. I wonder if someone could put a sentance together containing all your phrases?