The misuse and abuse of the English language

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I do wonder and despair when I hear our beautiful English language being degraded. I cannot blame imported Americanisms for everything so here is a list of my pet hates.

have a nice day, rest of your evening, weekend.
I suppose this is just about tolerable but it implies that the abjuration is necessary to stop someone having a bad day. I have yet to meet someone who says I was having a bad day until someone told me to have a good one and amazingly I did.

Having a good day consists of being grateful for the simple things of life and valuing everyone you meet. It is not precocious and depends on a good philosophy.

I will be honest with you
Ah, so that means you are normally dishonest. Thanks for telling me.

That’s a very good question
As, so most of the time you ask ordinary or irrelevant questions. Every question should be ‘good’ and indeed respected by both parties otherwise it should not be asked.

I was literally shaking with fear
Um how do you shake un-literally. Shaking with fear will cover it.

I will just go and doublecheck for you
frequently used by service agents and I hate it. you examine data, that is stage one. The second stage is to check it. The third stage if you need further confirmation is to double check. You cannot double check before you single check.

May I ask you a (personal) question?
This is the dumbest question ever.  99 to 1 there is a hidden agenda. I would say ‘no’ or grin inanely.

Sorry to trouble you
If you were sorry then why are you doing it? This applies particularly to  beggars in trains (yes, they still exist)

I will just make a quick call
no, you mean a brief call. Quick means you speak quicker?

It is what it is
Whew!   I never thought of that one.

I’m like …….
this is treating yourself as a stereotype. People should own their emotions entirely and describe them from within.

sort of
I heard a man talk about housing development he said ‘ we had sort of 39 houses that need repairing. What is the difference between sort of 39 and 39? Is the uncertain about his facts. I hear even professional broadcasters saying sort of every other sentence and it is profoundly irritating.

Jameen otherwise known as ‘do you know what I mean?’
this person clearly has very limited confidence in their own ability to communicate. If they are communicating something clearly and unambiguously it will be plain to see from the reaction that the other person does not understand or want to understand

If you understand what I’m saying
see above. give the person credit for asking a supplementary question if they don’t understand what’s being said.

hey you guys
I think the word ‘ guys’ is totally overused. I’ve heard it used when talking to one person, or with a group of females, and I think it is pure and simple slovenly. Same goes for ‘how y’all doin.

What was your name
My name is the same as it was last week, this week and next week.  You would not say ‘what was your sex?’   My name is.. would do it for me.

is there anything else I can do for you?
Once again this is taking the customer, usually on the telephone, for an idiot. If there was anything more,  the customer would have mentioned it. I wonder how many times in practice people have said ‘oh yes my goodness I have forgotten, there was one other thing’.

I’m good
do I have to say anything here? When asked how you are,  I don’t want a moral self opinion but a report on your physicality. Good = adjective;  Well = qualifying adverb.

(in hospital) Can you… lift your arm…. for me
no, I will lift my arm because it is necessary in view of the context. I’m not doing it for any particular person, I’m doing it for the sake of the problem

Unnecessary swearing including the f-word
I have never felt comfortable with the gratuitous use of the f word but it is very understandable when someone’s hit there numb with a hammer. I don’t think it has any place in normal conversation, especially when I hear women swear or even worse children swear.

With all due respect
Such hypocrisy. It is normally when you do not respect someone that this phrase is used.

..At this moment in time
the ‘in time’ could be superfluous, but stretching a point it could be an emphasis that time is the key. I would prefer to say ‘at this juncture’ or even …. wait for it …. now.

I’m sure this list will be added to so on this occasion here is an opportunity for audience participation. does anyone have any hate words or phrases. Write to me brian @ pobox.com

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