Sunday, November 23, 2008

The great hierarchy of verbal fatigue

...or the list of ten most irritating English phrases, according to the researchers at Oxford. ("How's your research coming along? Your thesis almost done?" "No, modern media keeps switching their annoying phrases, I can't keep current.")

So I digress easily.

This list keeps track of phrases that are tiresome, over-, and mis-used, such as "at the end of the day" and "24/7". A few of my personal favorites not on this list are "to be honest with you" (and dishonest all the other times I don't preface my sentences with this) and "let's put it this way" (since you're obviously not smart enough to understand it in its present form.)

Some other phrases are not so much annoying as disingenious. For example, people say "not to be harsh/disrespectful/rude, but..." and go on to be exactly that, as though saying they aren't being that way somehow negates their actions.

Then there is "you're going to like it." When people who know me well tell me I would like a book or a person or a dessert, I trust them. But when someone I hardly know says that, I want to ask, "but how do you know?" To date, I haven't yet blurted it out, but I still don't know why people are so confident they know me. Am I predictable, or do I fit in some preconceived notion of a stereotype?

But at the end of the day, irregardless of what people say, I can't worry about them 24/7. After all, it's not rocket science, and I personally feel, at this moment in time, with all due respect to every one who reads this, that people aren't really thinking too much what they say. Absolutely.

Besides, coming up with phrases similar to these can help bring flesh to the characters in our books.


Cheryl Reif said...

Thank you for the list and the laugh. You always make me smile! (Well, almost always, except for those times when smiling isn't the point, I guess.) ~C

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks! Writing horrible sentences can be a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the funny list. Here's a tip on the word "irregardless." It's not really a word at all, but a common modern mistake. The word is actually "regardless" Here's the dictionary meaning.... Irregardless |ˌiriˈgärdlis|
adjective & adverb informal
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: probably a blend of irrespective and regardless .
USAGE Irregardless, with its illogical negative prefix, is widely heard, perhaps arising under the influence of such perfectly correct forms as: irrespective. Irregardless is avoided by careful users of English. Use regardless to mean 'without regard or consideration for' or 'nevertheless': | I go walking every day regardless of season or weather.

Just a usage tip!

Yat-Yee said...

Anon: you may have missed the sarcasm that infuses the entire paragraph with "irregardless."

Glad you enjoyed the list.