AW ESO that's cool ME

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - PERFECT MATCH -

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.

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