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.
John H. says
On the mis-use of “literally” and “journey”, I’m with you 110%.
Regarding “no problem”, and similar expressions, there’s a nice bit of dialog from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that goes something like this (paraphrased):
“… You just saved all our lives!”
“Oh, it was nothing, really.”
“Oh, was it? Ok, forget it, then.”
Dave Knadler says
Heh. I’ll have to read that again sometime. It’s been years.