I like Kathleen Parker’s new list of certain popular phrases that have grown tiresome. It takes a big man to admit that, since I notice a few phrases I’ve used in the past few months, both here and in normal conversation. The comments after her column contain a lot more.
Take the interrogative really. As in “Really? You’re really going to wear socks with those sandals?” As a conversational conceit it’s many years old now, but only recently have I found myself using it. I guess I must like the feel of world-weary incredulity it invokes, a reaction to something so gauche and beyond the pale that only ignorant swine could be unaware of it. The only problem is, it’s not really effective without a nice pregnant silence preceding it. Usually when I’m in a group of people, the only pregnant silence comes from me and nobody notices. Still, I keep trying.
I also have a problem with “no problem.” I find myself using that all the time, even though I agree it’s a poor substitute for “You’re welcome”:
“Thanks for battling the hyenas to save my life, Dave.”
I’ve had better luck purging my vocabulary of other unfortunate phrases, even though it sometimes requires steely self-discipline. I can say with some pride that I have not used the phrase “just sayin'” for at least three years now. Don’t you think it makes the user look like a smug twit? Same with “teachable moment,” “threw under the bus” and “moving forward.” And I am one of the few people in the known universe who never uses the word “literally” unless it’s justified. (Hint: It almost never is.)
What else? I’m trying hard not to use the word “amazing” unless something actually merits it, but it’s been amazingly hard to do so. I was a big fan of “it’s all good” until recently realizing that it isn’t all good. Oh, and “journey” — a word twisted into something horrible by its constant use to describe the experience of a contestant getting booted off an insipid reality show. Here at the Warehouse, we don’t call it a journey unless we’re physically traversing the continent on foot.