Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I have issues with issues

Have you noticed that people no longer have problems; they have "issues". I looked the word up, to make sure, and the nearest the dictionary definition comes to is "a subject for discussion or argument". But we pedants all know that this is simply not good enough.

A couple of days ago, on the weather forecast, we were told that there would be "flood issues". No no NO! A flood is never an issue (unless you're making a scientific study of floods). Try telling that to those poor people wading waist-high in muddy water to rescue the cat from the top of the wardrobe. A flood is a PROBLEM! Soon we'll have tsunami issues, earthquake issues, famine issues. Where will it all end?

But during my researches, I came across a lovely new word: ithyphallic (having an erect penis). So much more fun than the usual tacky expressions. So it was all worthwhile.

Every cloud etc.

16 comments:

  1. I too find the word 'issue' truly annoying. I agree, these things are 'problems', not issues. I sometimes wonder, though, when these new words for things appear, just exactly who started using them in the first place. Somebody must have started the trend for using 'issue', for instance - an adman, a little old lady in a shop somewhere (I doubt it with 'issue'), somebody in an HR department somewhere ...

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    1. Glad you agree, Biddy? Yes I've always wondered who starts these things

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    2. Sorry about the question mark. Meant to be excl. mark Like this!

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  2. I hadn't really registered the repetitive use of 'issues' - probably because I don't watch enough news. For some reason a very much older use of 'issue' is in my head! Great new word you've found.

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    1. Rosemary, I love new words. Even that one!

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  3. He he, "we pedants"... I gladly include myself with that group, Frances!
    Problem sounds too negative for the always political correct who never want to issue (!) a word that sounds in any way less than positive. I guess it is a bit like not saying handicapped but challenged, not saying blind but visually impaired (although there is of course a difference there), not saying foreigners but people with migration background (very popular in Germany, this term).
    The new word made your research worthwile indeed!

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    1. I've not heard about the migration problem one, Meike. Maybe more a German thing?

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  4. I haven't got any issues or problems... So is my lack of problems an issue or is it my lack of issues a problem.... :-)

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  5. It just wouldn't have had the same impact if Lauren Bacal had said "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you ithyphallic?"

    There are few things which raise more issues in the metaphorical halls of academe inhabited by pedants than a change in the use of a word or phrase. I still have not yet come to terms with split infinitives nor sentences ending in prepositions nor sentences beginning with a conjunction. But I'm getting used to the fact that the world has moved on (sic).

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    1. Ah, but GB, you have used a double negative ("have not...nor...nor"). We pedants must watch ourselves, too! (Sorry sorry sorry - I couldn't help myself. Nearly scrubbed that one out, but knew/hoped you'd understand...?)

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    2. I hate to seem even more pedantic but I think you will find that a double negative is the use of two forms of a negative in the same sentence. I would submit that the repetition of 'nor' is not the use of two forms.

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    3. Mentioning this to a fellow pedant who is staying with me at the moment has produced a supporter for your comment. David thinks that I should have used 'or' instead of 'nor'. I wonder if anyone has stopped yawning yet.

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    4. GB, iI agree with your friend. But you're allowed to make one mistake. Just don't let it happen again.

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  6. I hate it too, especially the way people seem to enlarge and dramatise their problems by referring to them as 'issues'.
    I particularly dislike the phrase, 'I have an issue with that'. It sounds so pretentious and the 'issue' often turns out to be something trivial.

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  7. Do you think people try to dignify their problems by re-naming them, Joanna? But I agree. Pretentious!

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