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Language: Made-up, incorrect & over-used words. Please stop!

August 25, 2010

This topic has been on my mind for a long time, and on the auspicious occasion of my age now matching the speed limit in most states, I present it here.  You may find these things as annoying as I do.

What jump-started the topic for me again was a recent blog entry, from “Life’s a Pitch”.  Read this list, and then come back “after the jump”.

http://www.artsjournal.com/lifesapitch/2010/07/just-another-easy-to-use-state.html

Ok, now that I”ve said it;  “After the jump” is one of my new pet peeves.  What the HELL does that mean???  What jump?  Who’s jumping?  Is there a big invisible hole I’m missing somewhere?  Half the time I see this sort of thing on Yahoo, AOL news, whatever; there’s nothing even remotely resembling a “JUMP”.   Once in a while, there’s a  video clip.   Is THAT what they’re talking about?  Who started this nonsensical phrase?   

I for one am NOT jumping.  It doesn’t make it more exciting, and it doesn’t spruce up a lame news story.  Get over it.  No one’s jumping; up OR down.   This is the first of many new web-based phrases we need to excise.  Just stop saying it, right now.

Another one – this from the music biz – is an expression used when an artist or group releases a new CD.   Some advertising wanna-be coined the phrase “Drops” and now it’s grotesquely overused, let alone silly and inane.   So-and-so’s CD “DROPS” today.    Oh REALLY….. reminds me of BIRD-POOP dropping, or something falling out of the bottom of a box.  Another image that comes to mind is bad sales:  If a CD is DROPPING, wouldn’t that imply it’s falling off the charts?!??!   Just another BS term made up to impress us with something ho-hum.   Drop it, indeed.   My clients RELEASE CDs, and it works just fine for them.   (Of course, with all the doom & gloom predicted for the CD industry in general, most music releases now go out as digital downloads more than physical CDs, so maybe this one will just crawl off and die somewhere, hopefully ignored and forgotten.)

Another expression that drives me batty – and should be banned from the face of the earth for at least 10 years – is any phrase that includes these two words:  “Literally Skyrocketing”.   AAAAAAAAAAAAiiiiiieeeeee!!!!   It’s like having a screwdriver shoved in my brain, any time I hear this, esp on TV news reports, at least once a week.   My mind thinks of a fireworks display, and someone has linked the item in question (Gas Prices, Inflation rates, Summer temperatures, Susan Boyle CD sales, etc.) to this phrase.    “Prices at the pump are literally skyrocketing today“…….Uh, no, they’re NOT.   Not unless you have tied a trash can filled with pyrotechnic devices to the thing and lit the fuse.

Seriously, can’t news reporters and journalists agree on an indefinite moratorium of this meaningless phrase and find a better way to say:  “Going up” ?

Here’s another ridiculous expression you’ll hear when you’re travelling on an airline, although I have to credit George Carlin for this:  “…until you’ve reached your final destination.”   Say what!?   The word “Destination” contains the very core word: “Destiny” in there.   Final/Destination are mutually inclusive terms.   You DONT NEED FINAL in the phrase.  Too many words.

One makes “Connections” along the way to our “Destination”, but one doesn’t make several “Destinations” before reaching the “Final” Destination.   If there IS such a thing, I think we call it “DEATH”, don’t we???

Now, lest you think I’m just a total grouch, I do enjoy and appreciate the act of turning a noun into a verb.  (Things like:  “He googled her name to see if they were related”, and  “She just friended him on Facebook.” )  New technologies, and new situations.  I have no problems with that.    Here’s a good article about the fine art of “Verbing” here: 

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/25/verbed/

Two more come to mind;  the first is that tired old chestnut: “…waiting online at the bank.”   I remember Johnny Carson and others of his day using this expression, (was it a NY or LA thing?) and it always felt wrong to me then, as it does now.  Doesn’t one wait IN a line?   Even more so these days, when using a computer involves getting ON-line.   Minor quibbling, to be sure, but it still bothers me whenever I hear it.

I’ve saved my biggest peeve for last:  The term “Reaching out” is currently the most annoying and over-done, “new” phrase going.  I remember when “reaching out” to someone was a big deal emotionally; you’d reach out to someone for a serious favor, a handout, a charitable contribution.   You might even “reach out” to a stranger, a competitor or even an enemy in some special dire situation.     To me, it’s a serious act of connection, to be saved for special, important situations. 

But when I get an email from an organizaton that just wants my business, or time, the bile starts to rise in my throat.  Just this past week, a client’s secretary emailed me, to “reach out” to me to make an appointment.   Arrrrggg….what she REALLY meant to say was she was contacting me to set up an appointment. Period.   Please, there’s no need to get all warm & fuzzy on me just to set up a meeting!   A while back, an old high school colleague (who really SHOULD know better) used the same phrase: He was “reaching out” to me.  At first I thought he wanted a contribution to a charity; turns out he really want to just “CONNECT” to work together on a project.    Why didn’t he just say so?

Anyway, that’s a few of the most annoying ones, off the top of my head, and I’m sure I’ll add more when I remember them and have time to post here. 

Here’s to sane and sensible expressions, old AND new!

Joe

PS:  Not very terrible, but already overused nonetheless: “At the End of the Day” has all but replaced “When All’s Said and Done”.   Got any more?   Respond here; maybe we can make a list and call it  “Chicken Soup for the Lame Phrases”.     Or something.


Video work

  • The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
    performs Brossé''s ''I Loved You'' with soprano Kirsten MacKinnon in Lew Klein Hall of the Temple Performing Arts Center on May 10, 2010.
  • The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
    performs Beethoven's Symphony No 1, 4th movement: Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace, with music director Dirk Brossé at The Temple Performing Arts Center in the Lew Klein Hall at Temple University on February 15, 2011

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