Monday, 10 January 2011

"A big ask" and other irritating phrases

Can a single word be called a phrase? I think the answer is that it can, so when I describe the word "like" as one of the phrases that causes me irritation I'm not being wildly inaccurate. I am, of course, referring to the use of the word as a sort of thinking space and not in it's true sense of meaning "similar to". You know, like, it's when somebody, like, is having trouble, like, thinking of the next word, like. When used in this way it really means "umm" or "err", but that doesn't prevent me from almost snapping at the culprit. I managed to introduce another of those irritating phrases just now: "you know". Mrs Pensioner had a friend, sadly no longer of this world, who stayed overnight with us once a year. She was a big lady with an equally big heart but for many years she had the annoying habit (to me) of sprinkling her speech with a large helping of "you know"s.

Two much over-used clichés that irritate me are "It's not rocket science" and "At the end of the day", particularly when the latter is uttered by a television news reporter (or correspondent or analyst or whatever fancy word they are using today) whose job involves the use of language and who should know better.

Talking of television, the weather girls upset me as well when they talk of "winds dying back down". "Returning back" also gets me going.

Sports people are not immune either. So often we hear phrases (or clauses or sentences) along the lines of "It's a big ask" or "The boy done good". Which leads on to another major source of aggravation. "How are you?" "I'm good." No, no, no. The question referred to your health or state of mind - not your behaviour!

I think my current pet hate is a habit some telephone sales people have. They have probably received training which encourages them to try to establish a rapport with the person on whom they inflicting a cold call. Picture the scene.

The phone rings. '123765,' I answer (giving my phone number).

'Is that Mr Pensioner?'


'Good morning, how are you today?'

This is somebody I have never met, never even spoken to before, and he presumes to start a conversation as if we were talking only yesterday and I told him I was feeling a bit under the weather. My blood starts boiling even before he can start to tell me why he has called.

OK, folks, rant over for today.

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