AW ESO that's cool ME
AMERICAN author Stephen King has listed the words and expressions that most irritate him. They include the vintage irritants “at this point in time“and “at the end of the day“, and the more hotoff-the-press “that’s so cool“and “LOL“.
He also dislikes phrases such as “some people say“, “many believe“and “the consensus is“, describing them as the “kind of lazy attribution“that “makes me want to kick something“.
To me, his list seems very modest, almost saintly. I spend most of the day quivering with irritation at phrases such as “game-changing“, “ongoing“, “bear with me“, “awesome“, “happy bunny“, “you should get out more“, “for my sins“and “no-brainer“.
Here are a few more of my pet irritations (another of which, incidentally, is pet used as an adjective): THE WAY THE WORD ”boutique” is now placed before everything, no matter how sordid, in the hope you will think it means intimate and glamorous, when it generally means cramped and claustrophobic. TALENT SHOW contestants talking about their “journey“and vowing to “give it 110 per cent“, and even the most nondescript singers and fashion designers being described as “legendary“or “iconic“. POLITICIANS SAYING “questions need to be asked“and “lessons must be learnt“. Also, their tic of asking questions that they themselves then answer: “Do I regret my decision? No. Would I do the same thing again? Yes, I would.“ TV REPORTERS looking grave and saying “one thing is for sure — things will never be the same again”. And their way of assuring viewers that such-andsuch a politician is set to make “the most important speech of his political life“. TV AND RADIO PRESENTERS us to ‘join the debate’.
urging In the world of journalism, I avoid columnists who (a) use the word “arguably“and (b) still consider it snappy and on-the-button to mention Andy Warhol and his boring old 15 minutes of fame. Breathless lists that include the words “of all time“(such as the 20 Greatest Hits by T. Rex Of All Time) are also worth avoiding.
I don’t work in an office, but new jargon seems to creep out of offices every day, ready to infect the rest of us: “touch base“, “ballpark figure“, “ticking all the right boxes“, “guesstimate“, “blue-sky thinking“, “win-win situation“, “I hear what you say“, “thinking outside the box“, “low-hanging fruit“, “singing from the same hymnsheet“, “pro-active“, “I’ll get back to you on that“, “going forward“, “bottom line“, “on the radar“, “ringfence“, “team-building“, “hit the ground running“.
Nowadays, when you ask for a glass of wine in a pub you are told it is “not a problem“, a statement that arrives with the implicit suggestion that if you were a little more sensitive you would realise that it was a problem.
On the subject of catering, I’ve noticed that the gruesome expression “plate up“– first popularised by Gordon Ramsay and the presenters of MasterChef – has now begun to contaminate ordinary household kitchens. I have even heard the ubiquitous command “Enjoy!“used in private houses.
It doesn’t take long for fresh language to turn sour. Expressions that once seemed pleasantly novel grate with repetition. OMG is one, “Keep calm and carry on“another.
There must have been a time when I wasn’t irritated by the most humdrum experience being described as “surreal“, but, if so, I can’t remember it. “What-EVER!“and “classic!“have gone the same way.
For some reason, I am still amused by young people greeting every faintly embarrassing situation with the response, “Awk-ward!“, but it can’t be long before the charm wears off.
“Closure“, “not rocket science“, “what’s not to like“, “roller-coaster ride“, and the use of the word “nightmare“to describe a mild inconvenience: the only consolation is that, eventually, most of these words and phrases will fade away.
It’s years since I heard “Beam me up, Scotty“, yet there was a time when it was on the lips of every pub bore.
If they don’t fade away, they become part of the landscape.
Jonathan Swift hated the new words “mob“and “banter“, and Samuel Johnson deplored Frenchisms such as “trait“, “ruse“and “vignette“.
And, not so very long ago, words such as “seafood“, “soft drink“, “babysitter“and “commuter“were dismissed by the old guard as horrid new Americanisms, but today we use them without a second thought.