Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Most irritating words, phrases, and expressions of the decade
They Might Be Giants and their list of meaningless phrases.
Yeah, that one can go too.
Now that we're entering a new decade, I'd like to lead the charge in eliminating the following list of irritating words, phrases, and expressions from the vocabulary.
Please let me know if I've missed any, and yeah, feel feel free to mock me by including "iPhone," "Kindle," "blog," "new media," "New York Times," and "tweet" in your nominations.
That said...oh yeah, that one's banned too.
The lazy copywriter loves "unique," because it eliminates the need to say what, specifically, is unique or special about something.
Ask an ad copywriter who's used the word "unique" the question, "What is actually unique about this product?" and the answer is almost always, "Nothing, so I used the word unique."
As John Candy says in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:
2. "That said/that being said"
Larry David blew the lid off of this one in the most-recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Here's how it works: You say something, like "Larsen sure is a genius!" And follow it with, "That being said, he's a real jerk."
The phrase has no function in the English language other than to take back what you've just said. Why not just cut to the chase and just call me a jerk in the first place? That being said, don't.
3. "Think outside the box"
Although this one has been widely ridiculed since Michael Douglas said it in the movie Traffic, it's a stubborn one that's having trouble going away; I probably heard it uttered 20 or more times this year alone, and not ironically.
To truly show that you think outside the box, please prove it by coming up with another way to say "think outside the box." Any suggestions?
I remember the first time I heard this little number; I was having lunch with one of my friends, and out the blue, she blurted out, "I heard you've been working 24/7."
I instantly got what it meant and hated it with a passion. Over the course of the lunch, she said it another 30 or 40 times, and it was then that I knew I'd be hearing it a lot in the months ahead from lots of other people, 24/7.
The old joke is that "LOL should be replaced with LYHMSF: "leave your house and make some friends." I agree; yet a quick Twitter search of "LOL" shows that it's been used a zillion times in the last day alone, most recently 10 seconds ago.
Please, everyone, stop laughing out loud when you're in front of your computer and, if you are, just keep it between you and your God.
6. "Make no mistake"
Make no mistake: we're going to catch those scumbag terrorists!
Introduced by George W. Bush, and also used liberally by Barack Obama, it means, "I really believe what I'm saying!" If we always believe what we're saying and don't lie, we never need to say, "Make no mistake."
"Make a mistake: we're going to catch bin Laden" is much more accurate anyway.
Actual quote from an ex-girlfriend: "We were walking down this random beach and met these random guys, and it was really random because they worked at this random restaurant where we used to randomly hang out with random friends, and..."
Use of this word makes it especially hard to teach "random sampling" when we discuss research in public relations class, so I hereby offer up the alternatives: arbitrary, miscellaneous, chance, or - my favorite - slapdash!
8. "It is what it is"
Perhaps what bugs me the most about this terrible phrase, other than that it adds absolutely nothing to any conversation, is that it's really just a thin translation of the old Popeye catchphrase, "I yam what I yam," and implies that the person who says it is completely helpless to do anything about the situation in question:
Mom: "You got an F on your report card!"
Child: "It is what it is."
Uh, no, actually, in this case, it is what it isn't.
9. "My bad"
The most flippant apology out there, insidious for allowing someone to apologize without actually apologizing.
By implying that there's a range of suspects, the person who says, "My bad," inevitably acts like he or she doing the honorable thing by "clearing up the confusion."
"George Washington, did you cut down this cherry tree?"
Doesn't quite have the conviction of "I cannot tell a lie - it was I!"
This word has been out there for a long, long time.
A variation of scumbag, it's only been in the past year that I've noticed people falling over with laughter at its very utterance, even when it's not being used in a funny story or context. What gives?
There are very few words that are funny in and of themselves, except for maybe "jaws of life" and "panties."
So, don't laugh just because someone says douchebag - make them earn your laughter by using it as punctuation to a story that's already hilarious. Plus, everyone knows that "mofo" is much funnier.
11. "Two thousand and..."
Welcome to twenty-ten, baby!