Words and phrases that need to get off my lawn

From time to time I put up words or phrases that grate on me, and then readers can vent their gripes as well. Note that yes, I know that language evolves. So does food, but you don’t have to like neologisms, just as you don’t have to like nouvelle cuisine (I don’t).

Here are a few words or phrases that have recently made my toes curl:

“sesh” for “session”. This is part of the trend of looking cool by shortening words, like saying, “I’m having dinner with the fam”, to denote “family”.

“Flip” for “change”. Yes, I know this is ubiquitous, but it still bothers me to hear that someone “flipped a House seat” or the like. Why? I’m not sure.

“At first blush”. Yes, the Oxford English Dictionary defines “blush” as “a glance, glimpse, blink or look”. But people use “at first blush” to sound all breezy and fancy, just as they use “sea change” for “change”. Why not “at first glance”? The word “blush” most often means reddening of the complexion these days, and so the phrase is awkward and even pretentious.

“Rom-coms” to mean “romantic comedies.” Don’t get me started on this one. People use it for one reason only: to sound hip. But the “o” in “romantic” isn’t pronounced the way the “o” is in “comedies,” so a proper pronunciation wouldn’t rhyme, but would sound like “roam-calms”. And that’s dreadful.

Weigh in below; it’s good self-care to vent about language!

323 Comments

  1. Diki
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Ouch! I quite like Rom Coms…if it doesn’t cause some kind of moral outrage chick flicks is a neat name as well…

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      If we didn’t have Rom-Coms we’d never have Rom-Zom-Coms like Sean of the Dead.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes, me too. As soon as I hear “film x is a rom com” or “film y is a chick flick” I know the probability is that I will not like the said film. It’s not 100% guaranteed – there are quite a few romantic comedies that I do like – but it is a reasonable marker.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. It’s a useful description.

        As for ‘rom’ having a different vowel sound from ‘romantic’, that happens all the time with abbreviations.

        cr

    • Phil Garnock-Jones
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I’ve watched quite a few films that were billed as rom-coms that were neither funny nor romantic, some outright violent.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    How about “self-care”?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I expressed my loathing of that term in the previous post, and will repeat it here:

      “I’m so damned sick of the term “self-care.” It’s hideous and it’s become ubiquitous. Ubiquitous, too, in that narcissistically announced on social media by those who indulge in or practice it. It’s become a buzz phrase for magazines, shopping sites, you name it.”

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:53 am | Permalink

        Yeah, but what, if anything, does it mean?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          I’ve always taken it to mean wiping my —- [fill the gap in for yourself 😉 ]

          cr

  3. YF
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your curmudgeony assessment. ‘Touch base’ is another one that makes me cringe.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Not a baseball fan then?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:56 am | Permalink

      When I hear that one, in non-baseball-playing Britain, I look for the vinegar.
      But that might just be my caustic sense of humour spilling over into vitriol.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Rounders? 🙂

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 21, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

          Acid-base.
          Does rounders have bases?

  4. Bruce Thiel
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Lately I am hearing “I’ll reach out” or “I’ll have him reach out to you” rather than “I’ll have him call you back.” When I’m in a smart-alec mood I sometimes answer with “and while he’s reaching out, have him grab the phone and call me.”

    • Ann German
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The latest bimbo lawyer (yes, I’m a white haired atty after 42 years of practice) who said she was “reaching out” to me also said, when I read her the riot act about something, “you are being heard.” FUCK these what I call “nebbish” words . . . !

      • yazikus
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        I take it you did not feel heard!

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          Your comment reminds me of another expression I detest: “Do you feel me?” meaning “do you understand what I’m saying.”

          • yazikus
            Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            Yes! Very annoying. However, I struggle to not use terms like this with the kiddo. He’s very specifically determined at times, and will disagree with my final answer. At that point, I usually say, ‘duly noted’ or ‘I hear you’ just to let him know I’m listening, even though we disagree.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        “you are being heard.”

        My come back on that one would be “who by?”

        • Chris H
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

          “You are being heard”

          Bloody passive voicing. The biggest curse of the last few years is just how much it gets used.

          No-one takes responsibility for anything.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            I agree.

            Once upon a time, used ironically, it might have meant something**. But over-use has removed all meaning.

            **Similar to the courtroom exchange I once read:
            Judge: I hope, Mr Jenkins, we shall hear no more of this.
            Barrister: Your Honour is entitled to hope.

            cr

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I hate “reaching out”, too.
      And EYEraq and EYEran, even among generals, for chrissakes. And “anywayS”. There is no “s” at the end. Get off my many lawns🙀

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:01 am | Permalink

        I thought that was the result of some “PsyOps” thing during the “First Gulf War” where that method of stressing the initial “I” change the meaning of the name into something very rude.

        • darrelle
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          Like what? That song by Flock of Seagulls?

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 21, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

            I remember he group’s name, but that would be about the time I stopped wasting time and attention on music.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          Rude? What am I missing?

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted December 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

            The story being put about – which I didn’t know any Arabic speakers to ask about – was that “(short ‘i’)-raq” simply sounded like the country name, whereas “(long-i)-raq” was close to the Arabic for “donkey-sucker”.
            Whether or not it was true – I’ve no idea. But I could well imagine someone selling that bridge a few times before getting caught.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Reach out is at the top of my list. I also do not like “I’m good” as a substitute for “No thank you”.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I always want to ask “Good at what?”

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I will use that!!

          • Merilee
            Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            Be my guest😊

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:58 am | Permalink

          That will get you the answer to the question “What do you think you’re good at?“, not to “What are you good at?

      • Alan Jardine
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        Also “I’m good” in response to a enquiry of “How are you today?”

        My response is, “Well, I’ve always assumed you’re good. But how is your well-being today?”
        Alan.

      • yazikus
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        I feel similarly about ‘my bad’ when a person is taking ownership for a mistake. Yes, it is your bad, now how do we fix it?

        • Nobody Special
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          Because ‘bad’ does not mean ‘mistake’ or ‘fault’, when I hear ‘My bad’ I ask ‘Your bad what?’

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            Yes! Bad is an adjective, not a noun (in this context).

            cr

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yep. I read a piece where a reputable journalist said they had “reached out to ISIS”. I thought that was a bit much.

      If someone has fallen through the ice they can ‘reach out’ but apart from that, they can go and f*** ’emselves.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        I guess I’ve said it elsewhere before – NY Times reporters (and editors, since they edit the stuff) wear me out presuming to say that so-and-so “signals” this or that. How does the NYT know that? Did So-and-So tell the Times, “I am now ‘signaling’ such-and-such”?

        Further regarding NYT, I’m tired of headlines, captions, and op-eds referring to someone or some thing as not being “relevant.” Relevant to WHOM or WHAT? The mass pop Amuricun culture, such as it is? (The reader is never told.) If so, I absolutely could not care less whether I am “relevant.”

        I also notice elementary school children responding to statements they hear with “What Thuh?” Of course, that’s an abridged version of what I frequently heard in the navy. “What The WHUT,” child? Do you know what you’re saying? Where and by Whom have you heard that said?

        And over the years Terry Gross of “Fresh Air” from WHYY Philadelphia has irked me when she has periodically asked some interviewee, “Do you ‘use’?” I’ve imagined the interviewee responding, “Regarding grammar, whenever possible, I use objects with transitive verbs.”

        • Merilee
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          Does she mean using drugs? I find “use” in that sense annoying, when it’s sans direct object.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        My only problem with “reached out to ISIS” is the familiarity that is implied. It’s as if the reacher is a member of an associated terrorist group or, perhaps, one of their suppliers.

        As far as “reached out” used generally to mean “contacted”, both use analogy with physical contact. “Contacted” may sound better simply because it is more familiar. It also gets points for shortness. It’s possible that they each carry (another physical analogy) their own nuance of meaning but, after thinking about it for a minute, I can’t come up with any.

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Didn’t Fowler deprecate the use of “contact”?

          /@

          • Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know the reference. Who is Fowler?

            • Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

              Henry Watson Fowler (1858–1933), author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), long the definitive authority for British English, over multiple editions, latterly by other hands.

              /@

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      “I reach you, Herbert.”

      /@

      • Filippo
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        I’ll bite – from the original Star Trek series? A gang of space hippies heading for some sort of (in the end poisonous) planetary Eden, musically jamming with Spock on his Vulcan harp? Responding, “I reach” in response to a sapient bon mot from Spock? (In the episode, “Herbert” being a term of insult, the name of some historical figure noteworthy for his intransigent bigotry?)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      I fervently agree. ‘Reach out’ is so touchy-feely. And blatantly wrong where someone was merely asked to comment on a story.

      cr

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        outreach

  5. Clare45
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Starting a reply with “So”. Canadian politicians do this all the time.

    I don’t mind “Rom-com” as it is so much shorter and easier to say than “Romantic comedy”.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      I confess that editing my blogposts before hitting publish usually involves removing the word ‘So’ from the the beginning of each paragraph.

  6. Jerome Truax
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t necessary to use “the fact that”. There is always a better way.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Agreed!

      • Ann German
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        And, “to be perfectly honest,” always gets me to say, “oh, compared to all of the lies you’ve told me up to now?”

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          That’s pretty much my response. I say, “Oh, and you haven’t been honest so far?”

          • Filippo
            Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            As part of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” stress-relieving and esprit-building activities promulgated by school administration, today was tie-wearing day. I witnessed a student complimenting the art teacher on how nicely-dressed he looked. He responded (totally in jest), “Are you saying I am otherwise generally dressed like a slob?!?”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      “In order to” is often similarly otiose.

      • Carey Haug
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        It was good enough for the Founding Fathers of the US in the preamble to the Constitution. We the people in Order to form a more perfect Union etc. I object to the more perfect part though.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      I agree, but the fact that it is heinous does not prevent it from creeping in regularly in my posts. 🙂

  7. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  8. Stephen Knoll
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    any & all corpspeak buzz words/phrases

    current annoyance #1 is “reach out”

    the list is nearly endless

    • GBJames
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Surely, this “Reach out” is ok!

      • Rita
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always thought that song title was “I’ll Be There.” I don’t remember any announcer calling it “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.”

    • Rita
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • James
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I like it. It gives you options. When I reach out to a coworker I’m as likely to use IM, email, text messages, or a phone. If I say “I’ll call you” I limit myself: they expect a phone call. If I say “I’ll reach out to you next week”, I have more options available.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        How about “I’ll contact you”?

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

          I also don’t like ‘reach out’, but the past tense allows a useful distinction in meaning between a successful contact and an unsuccessful reach out.

        • James
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          I could come up with a number of ways to say the same thing. The point is, what is so wrong with “reach out” that makes it unacceptable?

          In other words: Why NOT “reach out”?

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:25 am | Permalink

            It’s indiscriminate use for just giving a call.
            I may be mistaken of course, but ‘to reach out’ has the connotation that the ‘reacher’ makes a kind of concession, or at least a serious effort in order to help, provide assistance to or involve the ‘reachee’.

            • Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:21 am | Permalink

              Yes, I think you’ve nailed it. You don’t reach out to your friends. It’s a communication in which the reacher takes the initiative and without which the contact would not have occurred.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        “I’ll contact you”? “We’ll talk”?

        • James
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          Why bother? Everyone uses “I’ll reach out to X” already; why introduce new terms?

          • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            They are not new terms by any stretch of the imagination.

            • James
              Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

              Fair enough–though neither is “reach out” (I’ve seen examples of it in use in the 1800s). My point still stands, though: what is the value of using those other terms in place of “reach out”? I can provide a specific, objective reason why “I’ll call” or “I’ll talk” isn’t effective (modern communications provide a myriad of choices for communication, while those set the expectation of specific methods); can you do likewise?

              • Colin
                Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

                I think it was about a year ago when this topic was posted here, and someone commented that whenever they hear “reach out”, they can’t help but visualize a monkey in a cage reaching out. I cannot get that out of my head, so thanks.

                Oh, how about this one: “Have a good one”

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        One needn’t be a prescriptivist to recognize that some turns of phrase are clearer or more concise or more felicitous than others, making them superior communicative tools.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Wrong sub-thread.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          +1, felicitously expressed, as usual.

        • James
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          As I pointed out, ambiguity is sometimes helpful–it leaves your options open.

          As for concise, I’m not sure you can hold that as a standard here. The average “Science” paper is very concise, but the average person can’t read it.

          Further, you’re ignoring other aspects of communication. How we communicate conveys a lot of information in addition to the definitions of the words we use. It can signal in-group status, for example–in college my friends all used “fooding” to mean “going to get food”, and you knew that if someone used that word they were part of the group (this was not a conscious thing, rather something we realized years later). It can convey status (a major issue with English over the centuries!). It can convey education level. And a whole lot more. English is almost more a language of implications than of definitions; ignoring those implications necessarily means you’re missing at least half of the information conveyed.

          In that context, the criteria for what constitutes the superior communication tool may be very different from the rubric you provided.

  9. Kiwi Dave
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    ‘(draw) a line in the sand’

    Not only overused but, given the impermanence of any marking in sand, at odds with the emphatic meaning of the metaphor.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:06 am | Permalink

      “draw a line in the granite”?

    • darrelle
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      That one is ancient. Thousands of years old.

  10. James
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m the opposite. I’m a Descriptivist–language is what people use, so if it’s widely used it is by definition correct. It may be a dialect, and there’s certainly value in having a formal, rigidly-defined dialect, but since the purpose of language is to communicate ideas, as long as ideas are communicated it’s valid. This is particularly true in English, which–as opposed to Arabic or French–has no governing body.

    So as long as everyone understands what’s been said, I see no reason to object.

    • Ann German
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      The reason to object is that these nebbish phrases and words reflect a lack of critical thinking and/or care about precision in communication. AND they usually take five words to do the work of one.

      • James
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        The same argument has been made every generation since Socrates. That implies that it’s probably not a very good one.

        • mikeyc
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          ^What he said.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      So as long as everyone understands what’s been said, I see no reason to object.

      That’s the problem though, isn’t it. The rules need to be fairly tight to stop the language drifting to the point where some people don’t understand.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Well… some people never understand! The goal here is just that enough (of the right) people do.

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          As a writer, your goal is not to ensure that people can understand you but that people cannot misunderstand you.

          That’s a paraphrase of a quote at the beginning of John Humphrys’ book on language. Too few people take that to heart.

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:38 am | Permalink

            That is a good one, but I think some willfully misunderstand, no remedy there.

      • James
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        The problem is, the rules DO drift until groups can’t understand each other. That’s how French, Romanian, Italian, and Spanish arose.

        This is how language evolves. Instead of fighting it, we should strive to understand it (the process, I mean, not necessarily the specific terms). The alternative is to believe that the grunts, squeaks, whistles, moans, and other sounds we use to construct words have intrinsic meaning–a mystical view of language, in other words.

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

          No, we do have to fight some language evolution or the language drifts too quickly to be of any use. It’s a losing battle in the long term, but we’ll all be dead in the long term.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            Say what? That’s rather like saying we have to “fight” biological evolution because if we don’t species will appear too rapidly.

            Languages will change at the rate they change regardless of how much any of us objects or seeks to encourage the process.

            • Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

              Biological evolution has (for the most part) two components: descent with variation and natural selection. Natural selection acts on organisms to slow down the rate of change by weeding out bad ones.

              Languages will inevitably change, but it is fallacious to infer that we cannot or should not try to keep changes to reasonable levels just because we cannot prevent it altogether.

              For example, when English spelling was first standardised a couple of hundred years ago, it was generally considered a good thing. Should we just go back to everybody spelling words in different ways just because “you can’t stop language evolving”?

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

                What’s fallacious is to think that “keep changes to reasonable levels” is a phrase that actually means anything.

                Languages have been evolving for (probably) hundreds of thousands of years. Entirely without the assistance of well intentioned monitors who don’t like this or that bit of the whatever linguistic variability happens during their time in the pool.

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

                But languages do not evolve in unconstrained ways. We spend years drumming spelling, punctuation and grammar into our children. We do it because we all have to be following the same or similar rules in order to communicate with each other.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

                No. Languages existed (and evolved) countless generations before anyone ever thought about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. These are very recent developments that attempt to “capture” a version that happens to exist at some place/time. They are not features of language so much as features of the documentation of language. Consequently they are inevitably out of sync with reality.

            • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

              True but we do have a role to play in that evolution. This is especially true for scientists and technologists who are most often inventing new concepts which require new words and phrases. As they know, you can coin new words and phrases but you can’t count on them sticking around.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

                Of course. People invent new words all the time for all sorts of reasons. It is part of how language evolves. But the words get adopted “naturally” by people who pick up on the utility for their own purposes. None of this requires language police trying to keep the changes from “getting out of hand”.

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                Pointing out the silliness of some words and phrases is also part of the evolutionary process.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                That’s true, too.

          • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            Agreed but the test that should be applied to supposed bad English usage should be based on communication, not adherence to rules. I’m not saying that rules aren’t useful but people that know the rules tend to apply them too quickly in order to signal their word usage virtue.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      One needn’t be a prescriptivist to recognize that some turns of phrase are clearer or more concise or more felicitous than others, making them superior communicative tools.

      • James
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        You assume that “clear” and “concise” and “felicitous” are the proper standards by which to judge language. That’s not always the case. Furthermore, only people in the group in question can really judge that. Regional dialects can be very different from one another, yet everyone in the region views them all as perfectly clear. Further, concise language can often be burdensome. The average paper in Science is about as concise as you can get; no one would say it’s easy reading, though!

        My point is, why do YOU get to set the standards by which this language is judged? Remember, English has no governing body; you’re proposing to set one up, essentially.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          You’re knocking at an open door, James. I did not arrogate the right to set absolute standards (I am not a prescriptivist, after all), and I did not claim that these are the only useful criteria by which to judge communication. Moreover, the criteria I listed were set out in the disjunctive — what’s “clear” may not always be what’s “concise,” and what’s clear and concise may not necessarily be “felicitous.” They are each, nonetheless, goals worth aiming for.

          My point is that, by any criterion, some communications (written or oral) will be more effective than others. Sure, there is an element of subjectivity to all this (much depends, of course, on the people and circumstances involved and the nature of what is to be communicated), but it is not subjectivity simplicter. There are guideposts and heuristics worth observing.

          • James
            Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

            “There are guideposts and heuristics worth observing.”

            This is where we disagree. I don’t see these as generally useful guideposts. For me, the only issue worth considering is effectively communicating ideas. Everything else is so far down the list it is simply irrelevant. It’s like saying “We should take this candle” when walking outside on a sunny day; sure, there may be times when it’s useful–but in the majority of situations it’s going to be rather pointless. I have had conversations–remarkably intelligent ones, dealing with fairly complex topics–that consisted of nothing more than grunts and hitting the other person.

            To be blunt, what most people call erudition is simply showing off. Showing off education, showing off status, showing off socioeconomic class, whatever–most of it is posturing. As is the case with most evolutionary systems, I’ve found that vernacular and jargon tend towards local fitness maxima; the language people use in the situation (the region, the career, the field of study, etc) tends to be extremely difficult to improve. Our obsession with “proper” speaking tends to blind us to that.

            • Nicolaas Stempels
              Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:42 am | Permalink

              Yes, but showing off can be quite satisfying.
              However, it is rarely effective in convincing someone (unless Ken does it) 🙂

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

              Human beings are born with an innate capacity for language. No one, however, is born with an innate understanding of the conventions regarding the usage of language; those must be learned. The conventions regarding language have arisen over decades and centuries and millennia because they generally enhance communication. (One generally will be less likely to be misunderstood, for example, by using verbs that agree in number with their subjects.)

              Now, there’s nothing wrong with breaking the conventions of standard written or spoken English, depending on the circumstances of the communication and one’s taste. (Hell, I doubt there’s anyone around here who uses slang and non-standard constructions and enallage more frequently than I.) But to break the conventions of standard English in a manner that enhances effective communication, one must first have some grasp of what those conventions are.

              To maintain otherwise is to promote linguistic nihilism in derogation of effective communication.

              • Merilee
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

                Had to look up “enallage.” Never hoid it before🤓

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

                All true but I find many of the complaints about word usage are made by people who simply miss the subtle meaning intended. These language critics suffer from the malady captured by “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

            • Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

              I don’t see these as generally useful guideposts. For me, the only issue worth considering is effectively communicating ideas.

              You can’t communicate effectively unless you and your interlocutor share a common language. What is a language if it is not a set of commonly agreed heuristics and guideposts?

              Any differences add friction to the process of communication that can inhibit the communication of ideas to a greater or lesser extent.

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

                It’s not that simple. The language also evolves, sometimes for no apparent reason but often for very good reason.

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

                Memetic drift …

                /@

            • wetherjeff
              Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

              Hmmmm…. What most people call erudition is simply showing off? Really?

              To be blunt, if the following paragraphs of yours are not, at least in part, an attempt to appear erudite, I will eat my non-existent hat:

              “In that context, the criteria for what constitutes the superior communication tool may be very different from the rubric you provided.”

              “Showing of education, showing off status, showing off socioeconomic class, whatever–most of it is posturing. As is the case with most evolutionary systems, I’ve found that vernacular and jargon tend towards local fitness maxima; the language people use in the situation (the region, the career, the field of study, etc) tends to be extremely difficult to improve. Our obsession with “proper” speaking tends to blind us to that.”

              As we say in Yorkshire: Pot, kettle?

    • freiner
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I’m not so sure this comes down to one’s stand regarding descriptivism vs. prescriptivism as it simply does to one’s response to cliche, lack of imagination,slavish trendiness, laziness of expression, conformity, etc. Which of course, IS prescriptive: Avoid cliches, show some imagination,etc. Whatevs.

      • James
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        I disagree. I’ve never encountered a list like this that doesn’t boil down to “How dare people try to change language!!”

        Further, I’d say that these changes do show imagination. By definition rigidly following rules cannot be considered creative or imaginative. Generating new words and phrases, on the other hand, is a creative process.

        But again: These same argument have been made since AT LEAST the rise of written language. Our own language is a conglomeration of trends through history, lazy truncation of various words, flagrant conformity (to the point where we conform to rules that make no sense in our language, merely because someone said “These are the rules”), etc. That’s how languages evolve. Can you provide an objective reason to object to this process? If not, your argument boils down to “I don’t like it”.

        • freiner
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          Of course it’s my way of saying “I don’t like it,” and my reasons are the subjective ones of finding certain phrases to be unimaginative, uninspired or hackneyed. That does not amount, however, to objecting to change. To the contrary, I — and I would imagine many of us here– would applaud innovations that struck us as imaginative, insightful or clever. (And those would also be our subjective judgments.) I really don’t think we’re as hidebound to rules as it may seem “at first blush.” (Perhaps people at one time objected to “hidebound”. If so it survived the cut and I’m glad it did.)
          But aren’t the objections raised here also a part of the process that goes into shaping the language? In any event, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the changes that last will be ones we barely perceive as happening, rather than the grab bag of popular phrases and irritating idioms that we’re having fun with.

          • James
            Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

            “But aren’t the objections raised here also a part of the process that goes into shaping the language?”

            Generally speaking, no. The history of the English language has demonstrated that these sorts of objections are simply irrelevant. They occur every generation, and are ignored every generation. I can’t think of one case where such objections were successful, outside of cases where brute force was applied to enforce them.

            “In any event, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the changes that last will be ones we barely perceive as happening, rather than the grab bag of popular phrases and irritating idioms that we’re having fun with.”

            Depends. I mean, Shakespeare invented a remarkable number of words that are still with us (bedroom and cacodemon, to provide two examples). “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” also had a profound impact on our language, to the point where people don’t realize they’re quoting a poem. On the other hand, the graveyard for disused slang is very, very large. I don’t think we’ve given sufficient study to understand what gets perpetuated and what falls away at this point; we know some trends in how specific words change over time, but after that it’s all pretty hazy.

            • darrelle
              Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

              Some turns of phrase last an amazingly long time. One of my favorite examples is “bit the dust.” Homer used it extensively. So did my generation in the 1970s.

            • Posted December 19, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

              A perusal of any part of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) will demonstrate how much the English language has changed in meaning and pronunciation over time the OED has been in existence. For centuries, English has been inclusive of useful words from many other languages. In England, Anglo-Saxon predominated at first with Norman French added later. Some words re-enter English again and again with new meanings and/or pronunciations dependent on how the word has changed in the home countries.

              This flexibility and openness to change is what makes English the language most used all over the world. Italian (La Crusca),French (French Academy), and Spanish (Royal Spanish Academy)all have academies pertaining to the most correct linguistics. They less easily accommodate terminology needed for new ideas, processes and creations.

              As a result of this great flexibility in the English language, there are a many words in use that do not translate one to one so that often we must accept that we probably conveyed what was intended to another person but without certitude. When is “empathy” a more correct word to use than “sympathy”, especially if an individual uses one of the two words to encompass both?

              I’d like to introduce one of my pet peeves about English language usage. We have many words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Since editing seems to have largely gone the way of the dodo, one sees many sentences online and in print that are
              unintentionally humorous or ludicrous. Imagine “bear” used when “bare” is meant, for example.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      “So as long as everyone understands what’s been said, I see no reason to object”.

      Well, (a) if you use modish, or nebbish, or obscurantist, or narrowly trendy language, people may actually not understand what’s been said; and (b), even if they do, they may recoil from the pretentious way in which you choose to express yourself.

      • James
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        “if you use modish, or nebbish, or obscurantist, or narrowly trendy language, people may actually not understand what’s been said”

        I’ve not seen anyone complaining about lack of understanding (context tends to help here). I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about aesthetics. That’s par for the course, in my experience–it’s easy to SAY that you’re concerned about mutual comprehension, but the actual arguments presented demonstrate that the complainers comprehended the speaker in question just fine.

        Besides, the same complaint can be (and very frequently is) leveled at what many consider to be “proper” English–ask any high school English teacher. If your argument is a reason to abandon jargon, vernacular, and slang, it’s also, applied consistently, a reason to abandon “proper” English.

        “even if they do, they may recoil from the pretentious way in which you choose to express yourself”

        Again, same complaint can be made against “proper” English. I have met people who find erudition in others intimidating. I have met people who became agitated, and even mildly hostile (standoffish, but not violent) if someone spoke above an 8th grade level. Again, being consistent, we can argue in favor of abandoning “proper” English.

        That’s ignoring the inevitability of change in language, particularly the English language, particularly when experiencing some of the greatest cultural shifts in centuries (rise of the internet, social media, etc), all of which only weaken your argument.

  11. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    “The Earth.” We don’t say, “The Venus.”

    • yazikus
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      That is a neat one. We do say ‘the sun’, or ‘den Hague’, etc. Why not planets?

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Good question. My astrophysics and astronomy instructor from way back was Czech, and kept catching herself saying “the Jupiter” and such, which the equivalent (apparently) is grammatically correct in Czech.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Also, why does one hear “The Calculus,” and not “The Algebra/Geometry/Arithmetic”?

      Also: In Britain, one “goes to university,” whereas in the U.S., one “goes to college.” In my poor Amuricun experience if memory serves me, the phrase “the university” or “the college” is not used as an object in a sentence unless a prepositional phrase beginning with “of” is used as part of the object, as in, for example, “the University of Tennessee” or “the College of William and Mary.”

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        I always thought we said “the Earth” to differentiate from just “earth” (ie, dirt). Perhaps there are languages in which the planet Earth has its own word. I’m not sure why people say “the calculus” but its probably the result of a similar ambiguity where one of the ambiguents (is that a word?) has dropped out of usage.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          I suspect you are correct and the explanation goes way, way, back in time before planetary bodies were understood. “The Earth”, if I’m correct, would have come about after people figured out that we live on a planet and we needed a way to distinguish that usage from references to soil.

          But I don’t know if that accounts for “the sun” and “the moon”.

          • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

            I vaguely remember reading a discussion of the use of “the” in the English language. If I remember correctly, it claimed that the requirement to prefix a noun by “the” followed no discernible pattern. For example, Brits say “she’s in hospital” whereas say “she’s in the hospital” in the US.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

              The use of ‘the’ does seem to follow a vaguely arbitrary rule, which differs for the class of thing addressed. For example, towns do NOT get ‘the’ – ‘London’ or ‘Paris’ for example; whereas rivers do – ‘the Thames’, ‘the Amazon’; and lakes don’t – ‘Loch Ness’, ‘Lake Baikal’.

              Named ships get ‘the’ – ‘the Queen Mary’, ‘the Cutty Sark’. Named railway locomotives don’t – ‘Flying Scotsman’ or ‘Mallard’ whereas named trains do – ‘the Golden Arrow’, ‘the Orient Express’, ‘the City of New Orleans.’

              Why this is I can’t say, but I do know that when that ‘rule’ is broken it just sounds wrong.

              cr

              • Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I guess I misspoke. There are patterns but there doesn’t seem to be much logic behind them. You bring up a good example. Why should rivers get “the” but not cities?

              • Merilee
                Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

                And Brits seem to say The Whatever Road, whereas N. Americans never use the The (except for maybe something like The Esplanade.

                Also interesting is when we use the vs. my: the fridge, the couch, Ontarians always say The cottage (not my). We also say get into bed, sans my.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted December 20, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

                @Paul – I don’t think you misspoke when saying ‘the’ followed no discernible pattern. Insofar as I can discern any pattern it seems to be almost arbitrary and fairly capricious.

                cr

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          I suspect, but don’t know that “the calculus” comes from a shortening of “the differential and integral calculus”, because, technically, there are other calculuses (calculi). But only “one” is widespread.

      • Kiwi Dave
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps ‘calculus’ sounds grander and more advanced than the other terms and also echoes the notion of careful calculation.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        As a former Calculus teacher, I hate the misuse of calculus for anything one needs to figure out. Usually “calculation” would do (or maybe the trig or the plane geometry🤓)

  12. Ann German
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    This last week all any of the talking heads wanted to say was “public facing.” Yikes.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      “Public facing”? In what context? Musta missed it.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      I’m fatigued with the use of the word “pivot,” whether by government officials or by the NY Times. (At least the times seems to have given the word “career” [re: “careen”] a rest, as it apparently did the adjective “monumental” several years prior. As Hitch might say, “Progress of a kind.”)

  13. John Conoboy
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    It drives me nuts to have people use the word “optics” to mean the ways some political or other action is perceived by others. This seems to be proliferating in recent years primarily by politicians and in the media.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I hate that too. Its used all the time by talking heads on MSNBC instead of ‘appearance’

      What really bothers me about this and many other examples on this post is that the word is used incorrectly. Chris Hayes, or whoever the f#$% started it vaguely knows that optics refers to vision (really the movement of light)….and thats enough of a connection. Just shows that a little education is a dangerous thing.

    • Phil Garnock-Jones
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, it’s not a good look.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the audibles aren’t good on that, nor are the cognitives.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Using “optics” that way makes the speaker look bad?

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      We’ve already lost another: “phenomenon”, to mean “event” or “occurrence” or the like. “phainomena” means “appearances”, so people who speak of “elementary particle phenomena” or the like for a while were committing a pretty bad mistake. But that battle was lost.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Oh, agreed. Fervently. I hate it when words with a good technical meaning get misused.

      cr

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    “At first blush” sounds hackneyed to me, as do its opposites like “in the final analysis” or “at the end of the day” or “when all is said and done.” None of them add much. They might slip into conversation, but I’d avoid them in writing.

    “Sesh,” I don’t recall hearing much. The others give me no grief.

    • phil brown
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      “Sesh” is what we used to refer to an afternoon/evening of smoking dope.

    • vtvita
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      I heard “sesh” for the first time just a few days ago as I was researching pot vaporizers.

  15. Colin
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Not so much word-use, but I’ve been noticing lately that most people, even those educated people who should know better, are pronouncing the word “already” as “arready”, completely dropping the “l”.

    Similarly, when a person comments on, say, a photo on Facebook or whatever, they’ll always say “Love this”, dropping the “I”, rendering their comment a command. Once I replied with: “OK, I will”.

    We have not one, but TWO local weather forecasters on TV who always pronounce “Tuesday” as “Chewsday” – what’s up with that? I mean I doubt that they pronounce “Tuna” as “Chewna”. I have to quickly grab the remote for the mute button.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      And speaking of pronunciation, I note that the really cool people now say “noose” instead of “nooz” for news.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Re: differing pronunciations of “use” as a noun and a verb.

    • James
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      There are specific patterns in how language changes. Humans are lazy, and we tend to drop letters and make sounds easier to produce. “CH” is easier to form (physically, the movement of our mouths) than “T” in many cases, and gets substituted for it.

      Oddly, I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone pronounces “bye” as “mbye”. Makes sense, given that the “m” sound is easier to make than the harder “b” sound, while still using the same mechanics (an “m” is sort of a long “b” when you think about it). So there are cases where people are lengthening words as well as cases of people shortening words.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        People who pronounce “tune” as |tun| often hear the pronunciation |tjuːn| as |tʃuːn| (“choon”). It’s a common difference between US and British English.

        US clients who hear me say “Duo Security” think the vendor is something like “Dzhoo-oh”, so I have to be careful and say |ˈduoʊ| rather than |ˈdjuːəʊ|.

        /@

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      As far as pronunciation goes, I have vowed to only be disturbed by “eksetera’ (etcetera).
      ‘Chewna’ would be weird, good fresh tuna sashimi hardly needs any chewing.

    • vtvita
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:28 am | Permalink

      Clerk: “Have a nice day.”
      Me: “Don’t tell me what to do.”

  16. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    “conciseness” for “concision” 😡

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Both are perfectly cromulent derivatives of “concise”.

      /@

  17. Gabrielle
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Lately, two of the 20-somethings that I work with will say ‘Gotcha’ when I’m explaining something to them, usually something technical. They’ll say it whenever I pause to give them a moment to digest what I’m saying. I know it means that they’re understanding what I’m telling them, but it still throws me off a bit. But I otherwise enjoy working with them, so I dont’ mind much.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Gotcha.

      /@

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      The “I understand” is a feature of Japanese; and the listener’s failure to say “hai” (usually meaning “yes”, but in this context meaning “I understand”) at appropriate intervals during an explanation lead the speaker to wonder whether the listener is understanding or paying attention. But I do not recall it being a feature of English when I was young, even though it’s useful.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:52 am | Permalink

        But English-speaking listeners do often punctuate an explanation with “uh-huh” or the hummed equivalent (however you’d write that) to indicate that they’re understating or paying attention.

        /@

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          One English word like that I’ve seen used by ESL speakers of all kinds in their first or other second languages is “OK”, which doesn’t seem to exist as such in any other language.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

            Universally used in buttons on webpage forms.

            Another near-universal word is ‘Stop’ on traffic signs. As an inspection of Streetview will confirm.

            cr

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      Can ‘gotcha’ not mean ‘caught you out’, especially in email flame wars?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:14 am | Permalink

        I try to avoid getting caught up in flame wars (except between EMACS users and mushrooms), but for some years we talked at work about watching out for “gotchas” – somewhere less serious than killing a person, but which has a bad effect that you could definitely avoid in (whatever the process is).

  18. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Love it when asked – Where are you at? Usually, just before the at.

  19. mikeyc
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Meh

  20. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    “I’m not sure,” implying that I do have SOME knowledge but am not going to share it with the likes of you, instead of the more honest and precise “I don’t know.” Similarly, the more institutional “It is unclear…” rather than “No one knows.”

    Add to these pestilential utterances the ever-so-precious “speak to” instead of “discuss” or “talk about.” Whence THIS silly construct? Perhaps some linguistically myopic millennial trying to torque some of the perceived nobility of the old Quaker phrase “speaking truth to power” into his own angsty syntax? Who knows?

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I forgot “interrogate” as used in PoMo speak: We’re going to interrogate the issue. Or, “unpack”!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:03 am | Permalink

      I often use ‘I’m not sure’ when I have read or heard something, but am not very sure about the reliability of the source, or if I’m not sure who or what the source was due to a failing memory.
      I think it is generally better than “I dunno”, the latter implies that you know, but don’t want to argue about it, meseems.

  21. freiner
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    “Top of Mind.” “Think outside the box.” “Whatevs.”

  22. Roo
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I am usually very much a Descriptivist, to the point of answering to other names if I’m clear on who the person is talking to (It’s the intent that matters, right? I know who they mean, whatever.)

    That said, I have an inexplicable aversion to the way that yoga instructors use the word ‘juicy’. As in “Sink deeper into this pose until it starts to get really juicy”. It’s just a little too personal or something – I don’t need to hear about my or anyone else’s juices, especially while everyone is contorting their bodies in spandex clothing.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      🙂

    • vtvita
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      I heard ‘juicy’ used in the manner you’re referring to for the first time last week by the ten year old son of a yoga instructor.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Never heard that one, and it would bug me, too. My two yoga instructors are Chinese- and Indian-born, so might not have become so what I would imagine would be L.A.-ified.

  23. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    ‘Dropped’ or ‘Drop’ meaning released or introduced. ex. ‘When will PCC drop his new book?’
    I think this one evolved rather quickly from ‘mic drop’ which has a completely different meaning.

    • Doug
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      I assume it came from the slang term “drop” meaning to give birth. Talking about a pregnant woman, people will say “When’s she gonna drop?” When I was younger, people would say “She’s about to drop her bundle.”

      A recent article said that Queen Liz objects to the word “pregnant.” It’s too blunt, or something. If I meet her, I’ll be careful to say “about to drop.”

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:42 am | Permalink

        * a pregnant pause *

        • GBJames
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

          You mean a pause about to drop?

  24. Phil Garnock-Jones
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    I hesitate to bring it up for fear of resurrecting it, but a while ago—maybe last year—I noticed people saying vacay instead of vacation. I haven’t heard it lately though, so maybe it’s died out of the meme pool. Oh and also, calling funny photos on the internet “memes”.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      “Staycay” is even worse.

      Damn, I was having a chill (another peeve) day until this post got me all riled up🤬

  25. Merilee
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Wouldent, couldent, shouldn’t, with the “dent” strongly pronounced.

  26. Michael B
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    People who use the phrase “think outside of the box” don’t know how to do so themselves.

    Then there’s “STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.”

    DON’T LECTURE ME.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      Then there’s “STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.”

      I’m not sure what the rules are in America, but in the UK and Europe, doing that twice without good reason during your driving test would be a likely fail.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        In my dialect of Canadian English it would be interpreted as either “don’t do anything outside your scope” or “don’t do anything dumb”, with the former more likely.

  27. chascpeterson
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    ‘Flip’ is appropriate if, as in coins or cards or House seats, there are only two possible alternatives. ‘Change’ seems to imply more degrees of freedom, as well as gradualism. To me.

    • Dean Reimer
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Came here to say this.

      Nobody ever uses “flipped” in place of “changed” in elections here in Canada, because we don’t have a binary choice.

  28. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    “Reach out” is my pet hate.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      “Pet hate” is mine.

      😬

      /@

      • gayle ferguson
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes! I hate “reach out”. That one is spreading here from the US. What was wrong with “I’ll give you a call”?

  29. Alan Jardine
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    “Icon” and “Iconic” to refer to a famous landmark, pop star or anything else that the reporter fancies.

    Alan.

    • freiner
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes!!!!!!!! As overused, hackneyed irritating cliches go, “icon” is iconic.

  30. Dave
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    “You’re welcome” is the proper reply to “Thank you”, not “No worries”. Argh.

    • James
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Wonder how this relates to the popularity of Crocodile Dundee.

    • yazikus
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      I also enjoy “My pleasure” or “Not at all”, but imagine both might bother some. What say you?

    • Roo
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      I think one is nuanced. I think ‘no worries’ or ‘no problem’ is the appropriate response IF there is a suggestion that they might have actually caused a problem. For example, if a friend says “I can’t make it to the potluck and I’m so sorry because I know you were counting on me to bring potato salad but my son has been projectile vomiting in his carseat for the past hour and we’re still 40 minutes from home and also my teenager just texted me something about putting Dawn in the dishwasher and… “I said put that down Billy!!”… anyways, thank you soooo much for understanding!” then “You’re welcome” feels a little cold, while “No problem, really!” sounds more reassuring. If your waiter says “No problem!” when you thank them for bringing a fork, then it’s a little different, although personally I don’t mind.

      On the other side, I have mixed feelings about using “You’re welcome” as a photo caption, as in “Here’s a picture of X. You’re welcome.” If it’s a picture of a fuzzy animal, well, ok, you can assume I thanked you for it in advance. If it’s a picture of your child, then yes, I think they’re adorable, but you are supposed to feign modesty about your own adorable offspring and say something like “Caught this little rascal wearing dad’s work clothes this morning and couldn’t help but post it!” Anything else is up in the air – I may or may not have wanted to thank you for your cookie recipe, that’s a “we’ll see” situation. If I don’t, and the person has pre-assumed my thanks, then what, I’m supposed to comment to retract it? “To Whom It May Concern: I have opted out of the pre-thanks model of this posting. You’re welcome.”

    • John Conoboy
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      “You’re welcome” disappeared quite a while ago. I remember my mother railing about people who reply to “thank you,” with “thank you” back in the 1990s. It happens all the time in interviews on radio and TV. A few months ago, I heard an interview on the radio with someone from the UK and when the host said “thank you,” he said “you’re welcome.” I was delighted.

    • phil brown
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I think “you’re welcome” can sound a bit too formal, hence the alternatives. “No worries” sounds more friendly.

      • Filippo
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        If that is so, then surely “Thank You” sounds (more than) a bit too formal.

        • phil brown
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          Well you can instead say “thanks”, “ta”, “cheers”, “much obliged” …

  31. Posted December 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Here are a few of mine from US media (which like many outside the US I’ve been paying more attention to in the last couple of years than in my entire previous 5 decades).

    Last year I stopped reading any journalist at all who referred to Anthony Scaramucci by his idiotic nickname. (I excused a friend who added an ‘e’ to the name and thus referenced a wonderful Duke Ellington piece.)

    Same with the term ‘pivot’. For some reason this really drives me nuts. I don’t know why it does, but it does. Maybe it’s because instead of criticising a politician for dishonesty or stupidity, it advises them that they should have changed the subject instead. “I don’t think Trump should have said that Mexicans are rapists and women whose genitals he grabbed are lying about it, rather he should pivot and talk about the economy.” Why not just say he should change the subject?

    I’m pleased that journalists have stopped referring to a “constant drip drip of accusations” against Trump & co, but it has turned to into the next shoe to drop and that the walls are closing in.

    This will continue for the next two years, and maybe longer — unless the Democrats win by repeating the words “issues that families talk about around their kitchen table” enough times.

    Apart from that, I also refuse to take anyone seriously if they wear a bow tie.

    (I will stop now before my neighbours start wondering where all the heavy breathing is coming from and why it sounds like a someone is pounding on one of those old fashioned typewriters.)

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:10 am | Permalink

      In that context I would object to a ‘drip drip’ too, it appears more like a deluge.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:44 am | Permalink

        Although, on second thought, ‘drip drip’ has this ‘feel’ of gonorrhea, which in case of Mr Trump’s ‘personal Vietnam’ appears somehow apt.

  32. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    One that is really getting worn out lately by one guy – No Collusion.

  33. David Andrews
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    “reach across the aisle”…please!…say “compromise” or “reach consensus”…but not this!

  34. Tony Dodson
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘Versing’ as in ‘who are we versing next week?’ It has just made it into the Macquarie Dictionary here in Australia.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      What does it mean???

      • philfinn7
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        ‘Playing against’. Derived from ‘versus’.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I think that’s quite a neat coinage.

      /@

  35. Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    When someone says, “doing my head in,” my organs explode.

    • yazikus
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      What do they mean by that? I haven’t heard it before.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        It conveys confusion, annoyance and frustration. Much like the effect that phrase has on me = )

  36. Geoff Toscano
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Use of the word ‘proof’ as a synonym for evidence.

    ‘Taking ownership’ (to be fair it can be a neat shortcut, but I’m old fashioned)

    ‘I’m just putting you on hold’ meaning twenty minutes exposure to some unpleasant cacophony.

  37. Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Be with you on a second.

    Puur-fect

    Good to go.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Be with you in a second.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        What’s wrong with “in a second”?

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          Because it generally turns out to be two minutes.
          Be with you soon as I can would be better.

  38. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    So many things I agree with!

    Plus: “no worries” as the all-purpose answer to all sorts of interactions, eg

    “Thanks for that coffee” “No worries”; or “Please put the receipt in the bag?” “No worries” etc.

    And the over-use or the verb “curate” for everything from concocting a menu to managing a concert programme. Much less, please.

    • Filippo
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      The customer service representative handing me, say, the cup of coffee should be the one saying “Thank You (For Your Business),” not me. As it is, what one most frequently hears is, “There You Go!”, as if it constitutes “Thank You.” What do management types tell employees in training sessions?

  39. William Stewart
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    How about the word “rocks” as in “Felicity Jones rocks a chic black ensemble…”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:25 am | Permalink

      For this, I put rocks in socks.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        😎

  40. Robert S.
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I have a counter-example. This year I gave up on “Begging the Question”. It’s a weird, hard-to-understand translation, and when used in the context of argumentation, everyone understands the meaning anyway[s]. I surrender.

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree. When everyone uses it or anything else incorrectly just assume the meaning has changed and live with it.

      • Charles
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        Disagree. Makes my hair stand on end. More and more frequently I’ve been hearing people say, “That raises the question,” instead of the above misuse. I think the good news is that we can make a difference; e.g. nobody says “Irregardless” anymore.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:15 am | Permalink

          How would you say “raises the question”?

          • Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            Instead of saying “that begs the question of why he wanted to go to the zoo.

            say

            That raises the question of why he wanted to go to the zoo.

          • Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

            Or you could say “That makes you wonder why he wanted to go to the zoo in the first place.”

  41. William Stewart
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    How about the word “rocks” as in “Felicity Jones rocks a chic black ensemble…..”

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Who are you wearing is not any better.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:26 am | Permalink

        Buffalo Bill, wasn’t it?

        • vtvita
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

          Oh … , that was good!

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

          Ouch!!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Bingo

  42. Jean Hess
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Restaurant talk bugs me.

    When ordering: “I’ll do the prime rib…”

    Or the server asking, “Are you still working on that?”

    • gscott
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Or the server who says “If you need anything, my name is Mark.” To which I reply, “And what is your name if I don’t need anything?”.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      bingo

      • Doug
        Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Other restaurant talk I hate: when waitresses keep calling me “Honey.” It was ridiculous when a a kid who looked about 16 kept doing to me, a geezer old enough to be her father. “What can I get ya, Honey?” Are they TRAINED to do this?

        When my father was in his 80s, waitresses would ask “And what do you want, young man?” If they thought they were being flattering, they weren’t. He figured they were being sarcastic, and he was insulted.

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          The use of “honey” would produce an interesting sociolinguistic study for the US as a whole – it varies a lot there from what I can tell. And yet I cannot think of places in Canada where it is used nearly as much.

  43. Dale Edwards
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I am becoming very annoyed with media outlets overusing the phrase “breaking news.”

  44. Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps JAC will one day open it up with some words and phrases that we love to say. However, to stay with the theme of this post, “I’d be down with that.”

  45. Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Rom-com: I am ok with Hollywood types saying it but, when others say it, it seems pretentious.

    Sesh: Not much shorter than “session” so it is just silly.

    Flip: I like this one as it has nuance over just “change”. It reminds that a major parameter of its referent has two states, Democrat and Republican in this case. “Flip a coin” is much better than “change a coin”, which says something completely different.

    At first blush: I agree, “at first glance” is better.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      I had a South African physics prof whom I really liked and he would say “At first blush” and “You gain on the swings what you lose on the roundabout”, both quite frequently, and I found them both charming. All a matter of context.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:08 am | Permalink

        I like the second one but I usually hear it shortened to just “swings and roundabouts”. Definitely a British thing.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      “Change up” really bugs me when “change” would have done the trick.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:55 am | Permalink

        Well, it perhaps indicates a change for the better, going into a higher gear.

        /@

        • Merilee
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          That might make sense, but I often hear the “up” used totally unnecessarily. I can’t think of a good example at the moment but it seems one of my exercise teachers used to always get us to change up our moves, and not necessarily into higher or harder gear.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:16 am | Permalink

      I like to use the pedantic prima facie. 🙂

  46. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I hear someone utter some form of “to swap out” one thing for another, I have to stop and consciously remember what it means. What’s wrong with “exchange” or simply “swapping.” What’s the reason for the “out”? Can you swap in?

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I think it conveys which is the incumbent of the two things. “Let’s swap out the IBM discs for the Hitachi disks” (or “swap in the Hitachi discs”) makes it clear that IBM is the incumbent vendor in a way that “Let’s exchange the IBM and Hitachi discs” doesn’t.

      /@

    • Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      When I hear “swap out” (vs “exchange”) it adds the nuance that there is only one slot into which the item is significant. “Exchange”, on the other hand, as in “exchanging gifts” applies to more symmetric situations. “Swap in” is referring to the item being placed into the slot, whereas “swap out” places emphasis on the item being removed. Both hint at the asymmetry.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t “change out” a baseball term? The out bugs me, too.

      • Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Never heard that as a baseball term. Not sure what it could up. Change up is a term.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

          You’re right: change UP is what I meant. Fine in baseball (it has to do with pitching, I believe) but no need to throw the up in whenever you just mean change.

          • Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

            You mean like “I’m going to change things up around here.”

            Reminds me of a western movie. A bad western movie.

            • Merilee
              Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

              Exactly.

        • Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          what it could be.

    • vtvita
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Ditto for “calculate out”.

  47. Blue
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I concur with All above who state that the .correct. response to ‘thank you’ is ‘you’re welcome’ ! THE .one. correct response !

    Relatedly, I .loathe.loathe. thus:
    ‘thank you very much’ / ‘thank you so much’

    What ?! Wha’th”ell ? ! What does ‘thank you’ mean ? ! On my lawn what does ‘thank you’ mean ? ! So thanking someone for something given or done or said is ?really? not !enough! thanking, is it ? !

    JEBUS ! I loathe that ‘ne !

    Thank you.*
    Blue
    * with no exclamation point either *

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      “Ne?” at the end of a phrase meaning “isn’t it?” is very popular here in South Africa, I guess it comes from Afrikaans (‘nee’* meaning ‘no’) or other local language. I use it regularly.
      When I return an item I borrowed, I often hear ‘thank you’. Should I not be the one to say that? ‘You’re welcome’ in answer to that ‘thank you’ sounds odd to me, that ‘thank you’ leaves me somewhat speechless, I generally say something like ‘no, thank you‘. At any rate, I’m making great efforts to have a pen with me, just in case.

      *there is a curious but common expression in Afrikaans ‘ja nee’ (literally: ‘yes no’), which appears to add some mild outrage to the meaning ‘no’.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 22, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Re your last point, the brainless juveniles in NZ (and they doubtless got it from somewhere else) now say “Yeah nah” all the time. Which meaning it has, ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘maybe’, has to be inferred from the context, I think.

        cr

  48. Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Flipped, in the political sense, may be the acknowledgement of the fact that our political system is binary and hence broken – either or, blue red, Republicans dem. Especially since the plurality of our electorate demonstrates otherwise. We are doomed…

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:44 am | Permalink

      It sounds bad to ‘flip’, a sign of weakness, and therefore often used in politics. It should, on the contrary, be a honourable thing to do, to be capable to change one’s opinion in the face of evidence is no mean feat.
      Is there a good word for that, admitting one was wrong when faced with evidence and changing one’s opinion accordingly?

  49. phoffman56
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Not so much the appearances, as the disappearances, is what pisses me off. It almost seems like a conscious plot to keep the language crude for the young and the weak-minded, so they won’t start thinking for themselves. And I can’t help conjecturing about the human weaknesses that might be the cause. Two examples:

    The 2-syllable adjective “many” is quickly disappearing, replaced by the the 3-syllable “multiple”, with a corresponding loss of subtlety in the language. The cause: I’d bet it was a desire by poseurs to sound sort of mathematical or precise.

    The word “future” may be soon be unknown to many young people, what with saying “In the future…” being almost always now replaced by “Going forward…”. That likely came originally from politicians and ‘PR-men’ who’d like the listener to agree with their plan or to buy the junk they’re advertising, by implying the future will be wonderful if only … i.e. you’re not a backward person, are you?

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      I think there still is a difference between ‘many’ and ‘multiple’, many is more amorphous, while ‘multiple’ stresses that every item is separate, individual, or am I imagining thing?
      I’ fully agree that ‘going forward’ is very faddish, when ‘in the future’ is meant. It does not reflect well on the speaker.

      • Posted December 19, 2018 at 4:27 am | Permalink

        I disagree. “Going forward” means “from this day on” which emphasizes its continuous nature. “In the future” may just mean “someday”.

        • phoffman56
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          The point is, on both of these replies, that people now frequently use ‘multiple’ and ‘going forward’ for exactly the actual meanings of ‘many’ and ‘in future’, respectively. There are different meanings, as you each point out, and the language is being ‘crude-ified’ by making these differences disappear.

          Thinking people of course eventually invent new words to bring the language back to more subtlety. Maybe this is how many language changes take place, initiated by thoughtless babblers confusing two different meanings by using for both the word for one of the two.

          • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

            I was really addressing the suggestion that these words and phrases should be eliminated in favor of “better” ones. They should not if they carry subtle differences in meaning. Of course, any given sentence must be considered in context and may contain misused words and phrases. That should not be controversial.

            • phoffman56
              Posted December 20, 2018 at 7:50 am | Permalink

              “…the suggestion that these words and phrases should be eliminated..”

              I agree with non-elimination, as both mine above say. I’m not sure who did advocate elimination.

              The phrase “Going forward..” is often just faddish, and that stupid replacement of “In the future..” is best eliminated; but the phrase itself has perfectly reasonable uses, including metaphorical uses related to time, not just referring to where one intends to travel spatially.

              But I fear the faddish use, picked up from the phoney politicos, etc.,will triumph, and the word ‘future’ will disappear from the vocabulary of dimbulbs and their offspring, perhaps from all but supposedly stuffy academics.

              • Posted December 20, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

                See my explanation of “going forward” elsewhere in these comments. Some people here seem more interested in airing their gripes than getting deep into word meanings. A sign of our times?

              • phoffman56
                Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

                For the third time, I haven’t the least disagreement with your clever definition of “Going forward..” as referring to some kind of continuous, or ongoing, process in the future. My gripe has been (not well enough explained to you, evidently) its use to replace “In the future..” in every instance by almost everybody now, those uses where it is not as you define being both predominant and unfortunate in their dumbing-down of the language.

              • Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

                Sorry if I missed your earlier comments. Assuming the others were like this last one, you are replying to your own comment, rather than mine, so the email I receive says:

                phoffman56 commented on Words and phrases that need to get off my lawn.
                in response to phoffman56:

                Anyway, I saw this one so…

                The problem with these discussions is that the gripe about a certain word or phrase is presented as a universal condemnation rather than as an objection involving its use in a particular sentence and context. After all, this is what our host’s post is about, words and phrases that should not be used in general, not “This article or sentence is badly worded.”

                Under this assumption, I feel it needs to be pointed out that “going forward” does carry nuance of meaning that, IMHO, make it useful and that it should not be replaced always by “in the future”. That said, certainly people might misuse either phrase but discussion of that would need to be about a particular statement in context.

  50. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  51. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    emotional energy

  52. Colin
    Posted December 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Here’s one that I love to trot out:
    When someone says….”That’s not my forte” (pronouncing it “fortay”), with great glee I inform them that the correct pronunciation is actually “fort”.

    I’m always wondering too why I don’t have any friends.

    LOL

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      Well, it’s an English word, so the correct pronunciation is what native English speakers generally use! Here, I think, the pronunciation of the musical term is loudly exerting its influence.

      /@

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      Isn’t it fort/ə/?
      Unstressed /ə/ as in Mother or again?

    • gayle ferguson
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      According to ‘google’ that *is* how it’s pronounced though. It’s the way I’ve always said it, i.e. the same way it’s pronounced in French and Italian (as in ‘pianoforte’). It came to English from the French.

      • Colin
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Heretic!

        😉

        • Merilee
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

          Heretic, too.

  53. Posted December 18, 2018 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I like pronounce biopic so it rhymes with myopic.

  54. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Slightly off topic, I recently discovered that English does not have an open /a/ sound found in virtually all languages I’ve heard.
    The final sound of a word like ‘era’ comes close but is still more of an /ɑ:/ than an /a/.
    I think this is unique.

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I would guess that this is actually dialect specific, like most vowel sounds.

  55. Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Its not a neologism, per se, but it irks me in a similar way. Using “begs the question” to mean “prompts the question”. Nnnyyarrgg!
    We already have the perfectly good phrases “raises the question” and “prompts the querstion”.
    Grr.
    To “beg the question” is to assume the conclusion in the premis, e.g. to be circular. It’s useful goddamit and now it’s being killed off.
    Also, in my day we respected our elders and the music had proper tunes. I shall now clear my lawn of miscreants.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      That, I fear, is a lost battle (but I still refuse to use ‘begs the question’ for raises or prompts the question).

    • vtvita
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear.

  56. Posted December 19, 2018 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    I’d been assuming that saying a seat has flipped meant that the former Trump voters are now cooperating with the FBI.

  57. vtvita
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Here’s ‘your’ weather for ‘your’ weekend.
    Drives me nuts. It’s neither my weather, nor my weekend. It’s the weather for this weekend.

  58. Nobody Special
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Woke. Need I say more (about both the new use of the word and the people who self-describe as so)?

  59. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Obligatory Mencken quote :

    “To the man with an ear for verbal delicacies — the man who searches painfully for the perfect word, and puts the way of saying a thing above the thing said — there is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.”

    Bonus HLM quote:

    “What is not true, as everyone knows, is always immensely more fascinating and satisfying to the vast majority of men than what is true. Truth has a harshness that alarms them, and an air of finality that collides with their incurable romanticism.”

    Source :

    https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken
    (And sources therein)

  60. Jovan
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    “What’s the ask?” is the bane of my Wednesday team meetings. It means “What’s the question” or “What’s the required action here?”. When I hear it, I sense my grammatical gorge rising, and I’ve occasionally rephrased the term when its use became too prevalent — “The *problem requiring attention* is a bug when users attempt to encabulate multiple requests at once.”

    The only television show I’ve watched recently, Better Call Saul, had my favorite character ask “What’s the ask here?”, which disappointed me, especially since that scene was supposed to portray a corporate world of ten years ago. Nowhere is safe from the ask.

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      I have usually heard “ask” used this way as simply short for “asking price” as in a conversation between real estate salesman. In such a context, it seems like a very reasonable shorthand. I don’t remember hearing it used as “What’s the question?”

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      This is an awful new trend I didn’t know about… TIL NOW

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      Since you mention it – a “big ask”. (It may only be an Aussie / NZ term). It makes me cringe. ‘Ask’ is a verb, morons.

      cr

      • Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        Nouning verbs is a common thing – as is verbing nouns.

        /@

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted December 20, 2018 at 5:58 am | Permalink

        We’ve heard of “verbing”

        Now we have “nouning”….

        Is that tight? Ask – the verb – is used as a noun…

        • Tristan Watson
          Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          Gerund ?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 20, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            A gerund would be ‘asking’, I think.

            cr

      • Posted December 20, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Not when it is short for “asking price”.

  61. TEJAS PATKI
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I am assuming there a number of Americans posting on this blog post and I do not see any cringing about the phrase “I was like…”
    Ever hear two teenagers chatting especially girls?? All their sentences start with “I was like…”
    One of my ways to kill time at the airport is to count the number of times this phrase is used in conversations.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      We have stuff to do

      And

      There’s not enough time in the day for that one. It’s a different beast.

  62. Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “Let’s cut to the chase”

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Anyone who says that should be cut out of the discussion.
      Is that a fox hunt. When I hear that I always think of riders on horses following dogs chasing foxes, or imaginary foxes.

  63. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    sensitive content

  64. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    dude

    bud (shortened from “buddy”)

    • Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      I really cringe when anybody calls me buddy. Not sure why, but it seems to me to be phony familiarity.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        Heh… you should spend some time in the Canadian maritimes where “Buddy” is the equivalent of “the guy”.

        Example: “I went to the store to get some milk and Buddy said they were sold out.”

        • Merilee
          Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          I kinda like that use of Buddy.

        • Posted December 19, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

          😄

  65. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    my take on “rom-com” :

    I’m not in the romantic comedy audience. Seen some – let’s not go there. I’m left with the notion they are dull and unserious. So when I see “rom-com” I associate the stupid genre abbreviation (a necessity) with the stupid unserious films themselves, and as such, it doesn’t get under my skin, though, it ought to.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      You know “romance” might be pronounced “raw-mance” somewhere in Europe

      As an aside : there’s also “bromance”, but not sure they call those bro-com…

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Or for European speakers, “rah-manz”

  66. gayle ferguson
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    “virtue signalling”. I generally lose a bit of respect for people who trot that one out.

    • gayle ferguson
      Posted December 19, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and “my bad”.

    • Posted December 20, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      AKA “showing off”.

  67. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 19, 2018 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    “Wow factor”. Aaaaaarrrggghhh!!

    (My wife watches way too much selling-houses / renovations dreck on TV. It probably crops up in those dreadful cooking-competition shows too.)

    It was a clever phrase, if a bit too cutesy, the very first time it was used. Just possibly the second. And that was it.

    cr

  68. Posted December 19, 2018 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    “should of”, “could of”

    Ugh. *shivers*

    -Ryan

  69. Tristan Watson
    Posted December 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Classic of it’s genre
    Suffixing anything with – esque
    That’d work
    Suck it up
    Bra instead of bro
    Mansplaining
    Retard – noun

  70. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    And finally – minor niggle – misattributing ownership of ‘need to’.

    The words and phrases don’t ‘need to’ get off PCC’s lawn, it’s PCC who needs (or wants) them to get off his lawn.

    😉

    cr

  71. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 8, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Here’one that’s tricky to explain

    People changing “O.K.” to sound like “oh ay”


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