'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
DUDE, THAT PHRASE IS ANNOYING, NOME SANE?
Oxford University in England recently published a list of the Top Ten Irritating Phrases. The man who compiled the list, Jeremy Butterfield, explained, “We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often—an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism—and the same seems to happen with some language.”
Here are the winning (or rather losing) phrases:
1. “At the end of the day.” Are you even allowed to say this if it’s only 10 o’clock in the morning?
2. “Fairly unique.” Is this similar to “Somewhat exact”?
3. “I personally.” As opposed to you impersonally.
4. “At this moment in time.” Good idea, since we don’t exist in any other moment in time.
5. “With all due respect.” This really means: I have no respect.
6. “Absolutely.” This word is absolutely overused.
7. “It’s a nightmare.” C’mon, it can’t be that bad.
8. “Shouldn’t of.” You shouldn’t of said it that way. It should be, “Shouldn’t have.”
9. “24/7.” This one is annoying to the max. (“…to the max” is also annoying to the max.)
10. “It’s not rocket science.” What do rocket scientists say about something simple, “It’s not brain surgery”?
There are many other phrases that did not make the Top Ten list, but are just as irritating. See if you recognize any of these.
“Basically.” I basically know some people who basically use this word every time they basically open their mouths, basically speaking.
“Actually.” If they’re not saying “basically” every other word, they’re saying “actually.” But if you actually delete the word from any sentence that actually includes it, you’ll discover that it’s actually not necessary.
“Totally.” We’re having a fire sale on adverbs here.
“Obviously.” See above.
“Literally.” See above, and note this word is not only needlessly inserted into sentences, it’s often meant to convey the exact opposite of it’s correct meaning. Such as, “I was so surprised I literally had a heart attack!” “Really? You had to go to the hospital?” “No, I didn’t actually have a heart attack. I mean I literally had a heart attack.” “Oh, now I understand.”
“To be perfectly honest with you…” Does this mean you’ve been perfectly dishonest with me up until now?
“I don’t disagree, but…” This really means: I do disagree, but I’m a passive-aggressive personality.
“No problem.” As in, “Waiter, can I have an extra napkin?” and he replies, “No problem!” Wow, I didn’t realize a napkin request even had the potential to cause a problem.
“It is what it is.” This phrase makes me long for the days when people would shrug and say, “Whatever,” a much more economical way of saying nothing.
“Touch base.” I’m guilty of this one. I often call customers on the phone and say, “Hey Fred, I just wanted to touch base with you.” What I really mean is, “Hey Fred, I just wanted to say something innocuous first before I ask you for a purchase order.”
Here are a few more: “Comfort zone.” “Think outside the box.” “Don’t re-invent the wheel.” “Give me a heads-up.” “Push the envelope.” “Know what I am saying?” (Pronounced: “Nome sane?”)
Then there are phrases that make grammarians weep: “Me neither.” “Anyways.” “I could care less.” “He goes…” (instead of, “He said…”). “I was like…” (instead of, “I said…”).
And finally, the most annoying and overused word in the English language today: “Dude!”
* * *
(Note: after this column appeared in the newspaper the other day, I was literally flooded with email messages that basically said: "I can't believe your annoying list didn't, you know, include the phrase, 'You know.' That expression is like, you know, the most aggravating phrase that people, you know, say all the time."
I personally apologize for the oversight. Totally. I wrote the column in a hurry, you know? But at the end of the day, it is what it is.)
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