Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Grumpy Old Writer

I have declared today to be Word Usage Rant Day (WURD for short, am I good or what?). I'll start, then anyone who feels like it can have a go in the comments box.

There are three forms of word usage that have been annoying me lately. The first is 'on a regular basis', 'on a daily basis', 'on a weekly basis'. Why all those unnecessary extra syllables? What's wrong with 'regularly', 'daily' and 'weekly'? Or, in the last two cases, if the word doesn't seem right in context, 'each day' or 'each week' will do fine. I'm bored with 'basis', it's boring, y'hear?

Then there's the use of the word 'genuinely' for emphasis when it adds nothing. 'This movie genuinely scared me.' 'Here is a genuinely helpful warning about spam.' 'She is a genuinely honest competition judge.' The word 'genuinely' contributes no value to such sentences, as far as I can see. All it does is leave me wondering about the non-scary movies, the unhelpful warnings, and the dishonest competition judges.

And finally, my pettest of pet hates: 'nothing worse'. And here *rubs hands in glee* I can name names. For example, singer/songwriter VV Brown recently went on record as saying 'There's nothing worse than feeling podgy and you have to wear "that dress" and not feeling hot in it.' The actor Rupert Grint said 'There's nothing worse than a critic being bitchy.' And just to prove this isn't solely a meedja phenomenon, some entrepreneur called Michelle Mone is quite sure that 'There is nothing worse than interviewing someone who is lacking confidence and positivity.'

Malnutrition, anyone? War? Double amputation? Sheesh!

Now I know language is a living thing, that it changes continually. I'm fine with that, in principle - and I wholeheartedly embrace many of the changes in practice - but I don't have to like, or even approve of, every single change.

So what gets your back up about current language use?

18 comments:

Lane said...

So agree with 'there's nothing worse'.

The overuse of the word 'brilliant' irks me.

And the mispronunciation of 'controversy'.

Oh so many....:-)

HelenMHunt said...

'Anyfink', 'nuffink', 'somefink' - they all make me want to eat my own head.

Also a general inability to pronounce 'th' in any word.

Shane said...

1. To be honest with y'... (For dishonesty is your way?)

2. D' y' kna' I mean? (You're an idiot?)

3. For crimes of mindlessness and/or mis-use, I'll add: 'love', 'democratic', and 'as part of a balanced diet'.

Gemma Noon said...

1) "At the end of the day..." why? doesn't it count at the start?

2) "Do you know what I mean?" (although, being a scouser, I actually use this one from time to time)

3) "Hilarious Comedy". If I see this, I won't read it / watch it / listen to it. It just grates me so much.

4) "Laugh-out-loud". Because the silence in those comedy clubs doesn't mean that people aren't laughing on the inside.

Karen said...

Ooh good post, although everyone else seems equally annoyed by mine - "to be honest" (aren't you normally?) "at the end of the day" (it gets dark) and "do you know what I mean?" (yes I do, I'm not stupid!) Another one is when people say, "he/she turned round and said ..." why are they always turning round??

Aaand relax ...

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

How funny, none of those bother me at all and I use them all regularly! In speech, at any rate. I don't think I'd put them in prose. The thing is, when we're talking we love to add emphasis, even though in prose it's almost always superfluous.

I can see why they bother you, but they don't get me.

And now I'm trying to think of what does annoy me...

People saying "evidently" when they mean "apparently". People saying "cut adn paste" when they actually mean "copy and paste." People getting "ie" and "eg" the wrong way round, although here's an interesting thing: Somebody asked me to explain the difference the other day. "Oh," I said, "that's easy. eg means 'for example' and ie means 'that is to say'."
"But..." said my questioner, "don't they mean the same thing?"
...which of course they don't, but could I explain the difference between them? Could I buggery.

Jumbly Girl said...

"it has to be said" - cos usually it doesn't

"literally" again usually not the case

and

"where the hell is that work/story/novel/report/cake Sarah it was due yesterday!" for obvious reasons(except it has to be said I am literally always on time with cake!)

Bernadette said...

In the same vein as 'nothing worse than' there's 'It means everything to me.' Everything? Really?

And 110/150/200 percent, as in 'he gave...'

Asterix instead of asterisk; shtudent, shtreet etc (especially when on the BBC.)

I could go on all day. I even wrote a story about this that was published in The Weekly News.(Intolerant? Moi? - just for those of you that hate that one!)

Debs said...

I worked with someone who said 'on a daily basis' hehe, 'at the end of the day, and 'swings and roundabouts. I wanted to slap him.

womagwriter said...

My pet hate is 'utilise'. What's wrong with 'use'?

My husband would be with Bernadette on the He gave 101%, 150% etc. He screams at the tv whenever anyone says that.

LilyS said...

I got outed at work recently for continually saying 'I'm not being funny but' - i hadnt realised I had been saying but it was annoying a few people so i have stopped saying it - i think. I would advise you now not to watch Russell Howard on anything as he says 'genuinely' in almost every sentence. Annoying but he is still funny!

SpiralSkies said...

'With all due respect' before a blistering verbal attack... use of the word 'slither' instead of 'sliver'.

"Ooh, go one then, just a slither of cake."

"No, sorry, you are too stupid for cake."

Harsh, but how will they ever learn otherwise?

Jumbly Girl said...

Oooh I spent last Saturday morning in the company of a woman who said 'with all due respect' fifteen times in one hour (I know cos i kept a tally ( hey I was bored OK!)). One example was 'With all due respect, he's an utter bastard"

Debi said...

Those mingled words - docusoap, fanzine, mockumentary and *gasp* chillax. Others too but I've managed to block them out.

Years ago I had a boss in a very boring job. My mate and I had charts in our drawers with all the boss's regular sayings listed. While he was talking to us, we'd have out hands in our drawers (not those kind, silly) jabbing the list with our fingers to see who'd get there first without bossman noticing.

Ah not-so-happy days ...

Queenie said...

Fabulous comments, thanks everyone!

Pat said...

I've got to be honest...
Ooooh is it a first?

Pat said...

Sorry to repeat everybody else. Should read comments first.

Debi said...

Wanted to qualify previous comment.

When it comes to writing, getting the rhythm of the prose right is crucial. So sometimes 'on a regular/daily/weekly basis' might be the better option than the alternative.

And that's not just due to my adverbophobia ...