Saturday 3 March 2012

A rant about the (ab)use of words

This had been an exceptionally awful week, so I feel it's ok to write a really grumpy post. Here are a few of my least favourite expressions/grammatical errors:

1. "Passed away". No no NO. People don't pass away when they stop living; they don't "pass" anything. They DIE. That's what they do. Die.
2 "Sat", as in "I was sat" (unless someone really did pick me up and sit me there). "Sitting" is the word, right? Sitting. Not difficult (I have blogged about this before, and so have others, but it is infuriating). This mistake is (shockingly) used by, among others, many newsreaders, journalists and novelists.
3. "I was, like," for "I said". Where on EARTH did that come from? It uses up more words, too, so you can't say it's lazy.
4. "Vulnerable". This is a digression, because I'm talking about pronunciation here. No-one, but no-one, ever seems to pronounce the first L. Thus we have "vunerable", which just sounds sloppy.
5. First and third persons used instead of each other ("me and Kevin are digging the allotment" *; "he gave the elephant to my friend and I").
6. "Nanny" as a pet name for a grandmother. I know lovely people who opt to be called this, but to me, it sounds like a goat. Likewise, twee names for a grandmother, such as Mimsy or Flumpsy or anything else you care to think of.

I think those will do to be getting on with, and I hope no-one who knows me and who uses any of these expressions, will take offence. None is intended.

Now, which words/ expressions do you dislike most?

*I don't know anyone called Kevin, and I don't have an allotment. Neither, come to that, do I own an elephant. These are merely examples.


  1. Good job you stated that Kevin, the allotment and the elephant are mere examples - otherwise, we'd all start to expect "Elephant Diaries" from now on!
    The "like" bit is one I detest, too. It sounds so unnatural, and I guess most of the time, it is a way of speaking that people assume from their favourite TV series.

  2. I'm so sorry you've had an awful week, Frances.

    I don't mind people passing away.
    I saw an example of 2 on the Daily Mail website today and thought of you.
    And I dislike the "like" thing too.

    I burst out laughing at Flumpsy! I'm Grandma and sometimes wish I had been Nanny, but from now on I shall think of goats and be happy being Grandma :-)

    I really hate it when people say "Haitch" instead of aitch.

  3. I hate the misuse of the word "myself" — "they gave it to Lindy and myself"! It has become common usage in North America and makes me crazy. I've yet to hear someone say, "Please give some to myself" but, when they do, I will move to a different continent.
    My paternal grandparents were "Grandma and Grandpa" so my mother thought "Granny and Gramps" would be appropriate for her parents. I, however, as firstborn and knowing nothing whatsoever of goats when I started talking, pronounced them "Nanny and Bamps" and that's who they were for 40 years. I'm grateful to have had them for 40 years, and would have loved them even if they had wanted me to call them Mabel and Clinton.

  4. Sorry you've had a bad week.

    Yesterday I heard someone on TV (think it was the voice that does those awful what's coming next links) say someone did something 'merslessly'. That's not a word! If the man didn't know how to say mercilessly then he should have said something else - or, better still, shut up.

    Oh, seems grumpiness is catching!

  5. Elephant there's an idea. All i need now is the elephant.

    Oh Teresa - I so agree about haitch. John particularly goes mad every time he hears is.

    Kay, you're right! That use of " myself" is sooooo ignorant!

    Patsy, grumpiness may be catching, but not as much so as poor and lazy pronunciation. We writers are, of course, perfect (I could have said " us writers" , of course!) .

  6. I loathe 'haitch' too. Can you believe my daughter's English teacher uses it?
    I really loathe the word 'gobsmacked'. I didn't even like typing it.
    And I dislike the expression 'for free'. Something can be 'free' or you can have it 'for nothing'.

    I hope next week is much better for you, Frances.

  7. A good use of your grumpiness, Frances! The one I'm sometimes guilty of using is 'passed away', maybe because it seem less blunt. And you could argue that it means the person has passed away into the next life (if you believe in it).

  8. Joanna, I so agree about " for free" , and what about "nought percent finance"? What's wrong with " interest free"?

    Rosemary, I suppose I shouldn't argue with " passed away", since it worked so well with the cold caller!

    Oh, and another one. " Free gift" . What other kind of gift is there?

  9. Hello Grumpy. I hope you feel better for getting that off your chest. Since you asked, I'd basically like to strangle anyone that is basically unable to mumble through a sentence without saying basically umpteen times. Criminality is another word that gets my back up. We already have a word for that - it's called crime and we've used it for hundreds of years without any need for an ality.

  10. Hi, Mr. V. Yes yes yes! I'd forgotten about basically! Ubiquitous, superfluous and infuriating.

    Joanne, thank you. I hope so too.

  11. Hate hate hate it when people say "for sure" - can't bear it. Also "so and so turned 21 (or whatever)". You turn a page not an age.

  12. Another favourite of mine is "30% off on all footwear"! I used to love a shoe sale, but "off on" isn't even redundant, it's merely ridiculous.

  13. Colette, I agree. I also think "went missing" is a bit strange; not sure why.

    Kay, you're abosultely right! Ridiculous, as you say.

  14. I agree with your comments! I, too, dislike euphemisms for death. I'm not so fussy about names for people though. My Dad always said "You can call me anything so long as you don't call me late for my dinner."

    But see On Being Called EdwardEs

    Pre-order. One either orders or one does not order. One cannot pre-order something and more than one can post-order something.

    Free gifts: either tautological at worst or pleonastic at best.

    There are so many more.

  15. Oh. I see you have already said objected to free gifts.

    Is there any chance of you using threaded comments?

    I am one of those people who enjoys reading comments and although many people don't tick 'suncribe to comments' on a post I generally do because I like to see what other people have to say when a post is interesting.

  16. I should read my comments before posting. (My excuse is that it's after midnight and I've played two 3-hour games of croquet today and travelled the 4 hour journey home from Mt Maunganui since then.

    For '..and more..' (para 3 first comment) read '..any more..'

    Sunscribe? Interesting concept. Please substitute 'subscribe'.

  17. GB. what is a threaded comment? I agree with all you say, even (and especially) if I've already said it!

  18. If you go to Dashboard > Settings > Posts and Comments > Comment location > and set to 'Embedded' you will get what I referred to as threaded comments (I should really have use the term 'embedded' but they seem to be referred to as 'threaded' by most bloggers).

    I have to say that I used and once preferred the format that you use now but, to me, being able to subscribe to comments is more important.

  19. GB I did try that, and my whole blog went mad, so I quckly changed back again. Sorry about that!

  20. Sorry to hear your blog didn't like that. I think Blogger have a lot of sorting out to do with some of their programming.