kfw

Top Ten Irritating Phrases

130 posts in this topic

Maybe this is slightly off topic but my blood pressure goes up when I hear:

the statement "I love my country" when used as a justification for any opinion and a way of closing discussion

problems being described as challenges

university students being described as stakeholders

someone saying they are a "big picture person" when it really means they are not interested in fixing things that don't work

"Hello, how are you?" when the speaker isn't really interested in the answer

This mini-list is great, except perhaps that I have an "issue" with the last one: I like conventional phrases of politeness that frame a casual conversation, like "How are you?," and wish more people used them; that said, however, I hate when people say "have a good one."

Also: "I hear you," although I don't hear as many people say that now (maybe I just don't hear them, anymore).

Share this post


Link to post
By far the worst of all, nobody's mentioned it yet is 'GET A LIFE!' and 'I think somebody needs to get a life'. This goes back to the 80s, but it's never died. I think it is positively subhuman.
I hear you!!

Share this post


Link to post
"... I could've cared less"

-d-

This one is maybe something somebody can answer. I always thought it was 'I couldn't care less', but then a lot of people say 'I could care less' and always mean the same thing. Is one of them more right than the other.

Share this post


Link to post
... my blood pressure goes up when I hear:...

"Hello, how are you?" when the speaker isn't really interested in the answer

I know! But then if one's boss doesn't hear the phrase when greeting -(or bothering, if i may)-clients, one is being considered "rude" or "non polite". This, particularly, in retail stores, where sometimes they just jump on you and follow you all around the place. I hate it. "Stay away from me!"...i would like to scream sometimes. :clapping:

Share this post


Link to post
Maybe this is slightly off topic but my blood pressure goes up when I hear:

"Hello, how are you?" when the speaker isn't really interested in the answer

I do not want to be too, too terribly English, but your example is what we might call, civilised behavior. It doesn't matter if it is not meant, it is a code of politeness that establishes your upbringing your education and your class and would also when obviously genuine indicate a certain selflessness. (Yes, in some circles one is still measured by these standards). It would be seen to separate people as others, as opposed to PLU( People like us).

Once open a time one would regularly say when meeting someone for the first time, "How nice to meet you". Today, I would reserve this expression for only when I meant it and then only to some person who is distinguished in some way or have some age as it does seem kind of archaic. I think I have used it once on the two years.

The Americanism "Have a nice day", rankles most with English people sounding particularly phoney and robot like.

Share this post


Link to post
I do not want to be too, too terribly English, but your example is what we might call, civilised behavior. It doesn't matter if it is not meant, it is a code of politeness that establishes your upbringing your education and your class and would also when obviously genuine indicate a certain selflessness.

Respectfully, leonid, I come of a working class family and we’ve all at one time or another asked people how they were as a matter of courtesy. Good manners are not necessarily related to class, not in the US, at any rate. In my work I come into contact with people who could be described as upper middle and/or upper and some of them are quite unspeakably rude and don't seem to know any better.

Otherwise, I agree, asking “How are you?” even if you’re not terribly interested is a mark of well-intentioned politeness and not the opposite (sorry to differ with you, innopac).

There are few things more annoying, in fact, than the person who takes a “How are you?” that is clearly pro forma as an opportunity to tell you exactly,but exactly, how they are. :clapping:

This one is maybe something somebody can answer. I always thought it was 'I couldn't care less', but then a lot of people say 'I could care less' and always mean the same thing. Is one of them more right than the other.

It's correct to say "I couldn't care less" but the more emphatic "I could care less" has been heard colloquially for decades.

Share this post


Link to post

Perhaps I should clarify.... Courtesy is important and I agree with Dirac that you may or may not want to listen to a truthful response.

Greetings like "Did you have a nice weekend?" where you are suppose to answer yes or "How are you?" where one is suppose to answer something like "Fine Thanks, and you?" can even be pleasant when you have that exchange a couple of times a day. But if you are in a situation where that is the main content of a large number of verbal exchanges during the day it does get wearing.

Share this post


Link to post

I can certainly see your point, innopac. Amazing how much wear and tear a few phrases get. :)

Share this post


Link to post

So I'll just go ahead and post this comment.

(That was actually two. 'So' at the start of every sentence counts as one all on its own).

Share this post


Link to post
There are few things more annoying, in fact, than the person who takes a “How are you?” that is clearly pro forma as an opportunity to tell you exactly,but exactly, how they are. :)

That's true. On the other hand, some people aren't skilled at reading tone of voice and context, and from these people, an honest answer is in effect a compliment because it's an expression of trust. Of course sometimes you walk away wondering whether you've been confided in or taken advantage of. :)

Share this post


Link to post

I'm referring to situations where it's pretty clear when it's a casual How are you or a more probing and genuine inquiry, although I quite agree that there are people who have trouble distinguishing between the two. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Maybe this is slightly off topic but my blood pressure goes up when I hear:

"Hello, how are you?" when the speaker isn't really interested in the answer

I do not want to be too, too terribly English, but your example is what we might call, civilised behavior. It doesn't matter if it is not meant, it is a code of politeness that establishes your upbringing your education and your class and would also when obviously genuine indicate a certain selflessness. (Yes, in some circles one is still measured by these standards). It would be seen to separate people as others, as opposed to PLU( People like us).

. . .

The Americanism "Have a nice day", rankles most with English people sounding particularly phoney and robot like.

Funny! "Have a nice day/evening," seems to me a concluding counterpart to the opening "How are you?" We may not always mean it, but it's a little more pleasant than just plain "Goodbye".

Share this post


Link to post
I'm referring to situations where it's pretty clear when it's a casual How are you or a more probing and genuine inquiry, although I quite agree that there are people who have trouble distinguishing between the two. :)

I understand, and I'm sorry for not making that clear. :)

How could I have forgotten till now that aggravating favorite of politicians and talking heads, "the American people" (most of whom, I believe, are "Americans")?

Share this post


Link to post
Maybe this is slightly off topic but my blood pressure goes up when I hear:

"Hello, how are you?" when the speaker isn't really interested in the answer

It doesn't matter if it is not meant...

Sorry, leonid, but i have to disagree here. If something said to me is not meant, not only does that bothers me, it really offends me. It is a plain lie on one's face. (Yeah, many phone costumer service representatives sarcastically wishing you a nice day and thanking you just to hung up on you after having decided that the discussion with the caller is over). Honestly, i don't believe whatsoever in plain/watery politeness as a measurement of...anything, although i notice that it is a highly praised/valued behavioral set of patterns and formulas in some societies.

Share this post


Link to post

Great topic, and I could go on forever on "How are you?" and a host of others.

My peeves:

"differential" instead of "difference"

the mispronunciation of "jewelry"; you hear "jewery" or "jewlery". Should I add "February" and "library"?

Giannina

Share this post


Link to post
Funny! "Have a nice day/evening," seems to me a concluding counterpart to the opening "How are you?" We may not always mean it, but it's a little more pleasant than just plain "Goodbye".

I don't find it to be as pleasant as just goodbye, or as in France au'voir monsieur-dame, etc, but the difference is with a more modern business usage. It's equally mechanical in pharmacy transactions in England and France, just a little less 'okay, you've paid, now buzz off...' although the difference is in the 'length of the moment of intimacy' between the seller and the buyer. The buyer often wants to prolong the interaction out of guilt at not having to tolerate such a tedious job; he wants to be reassured by the lower-down, in fact, that he needn't feel guilty about his greater privilege (this is tedious--much better to just realize that that's the arrangement for the moment). There are other versions in which the well-to-do want to pretend to be modest, and others in which the well-to-do want to enjoy being rude; others still in which the lower-downs and clerical types want to be as beastly as possible as 'That is correct, SIR!!'. I've reported bad attitude problems a number of times, but never gotten anybody fired (even though once I should have). But I've heard 'have a nice day' nearly everywhere outside America as well as in, and I don't have to like it to respect that they have to say it. These are different from some of the others, because they are just lubrication to get through tiresome sequences of irksome events, so 'have a good evening', 'have a good one', and 'no problem' are here to stay, and Customer Fulfillment Specialists in all lands have agreed to follow their guidelines accordingly.

Leonid is talking about 'formality politeness', which is not especially American, but at certain levels it is a form of true politeness, if only because if one leaves it out, one has become impolite. I do tend to agree that these kinds of polite gestures and usages do not have to be deeply heartfelt to be important to observe, otherwise we'd never get a thing done; equally, if they never were, that's pretty pathetic too. Lots of them are different from country to country. I love the English habit of a waiter saying 'thank You', as he places your plate or glass on the table, and never heard that in America even at the best restaurants. The division by class is obviously what is being objected to, and certainly PLU can be seen to be quite absurd, esp. when it can be used by any class, such as social-climbers like the married bimbo in the play 'A Day in the Death of Joe Egg', who is not at all even upper-middle-class and going around with PLU and PUA (Physically Un Attractive, and referring to a baby with birth defects). But Proust has a wonderful description of aristocratic style when speaking of letters from ancien regime descendants to, say, artists they admire and are praising in the body of the letter, their 'new discoveries.' Nevertheless, at the end of all these letters, the duke or princesse never neglects to put the chill separation back in place with 'Croyez, monsieur, de mes sentiments distingues.' This can probably be construed as being either polite or impolite.

Share this post


Link to post
Honestly, i don't believe whatsoever in plain/watery politeness as a measurement of...anything, although i notice that it is a highly praised/valued behavioral set of patterns and formulas in some societies.

...um, and in certain art forms, i.e., ballet!

Share this post


Link to post

Another annoying phrase, " Git ur done!".

Most pretentious phrase, "Quid Pro Quo".

I prefer the more seedier sounding "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" preferably said with an New Yawk mafioso accent.

Share this post


Link to post

Having worked in retail, I must say that it is very annoying to perpetually have to thank the customer for allowing me to serve them. How absurd. While I would never be impolite, they're paying for a service, and I'm giving it to them, and that is that. When I go to a store, I don't feel the need to be thanked for buying a book or a shirt. It strikes me as some fantasy of the wealthy that it is somehow a pleasure to be subservient to them, and I think the French-speaking countries have the attitude about right--polite, but when you're finished, a civil and impersonal 'Merci, au revoir'--often run together as one word!

Share this post


Link to post
When I go to a store, I don't feel the need to be thanked for buying a book or a shirt.

I interpret that thanks as meaning "thank you for shopping here" and not as subservience, especially since I reply with my own "thank you."

Share this post


Link to post
When I go to a store, I don't feel the need to be thanked for buying a book or a shirt.

I interpret that thanks as meaning "thank you for shopping here" and not as subservience, especially since I reply with my own "thank you."

Yes, and there is a mutual benefit on either side--the merchant values the money more than the shirt, and gets it. Therefore, it's equal insofar as they agree to complete the exchange. The cashier, while not the owner, still is employed and must represent the owner, whether or not he wants to (until he won't! I certainly know that feeling!)

Share this post


Link to post
When I go to a store, I don't feel the need to be thanked for buying a book or a shirt.

I interpret that thanks as meaning "thank you for shopping here" and not as subservience, especially since I reply with my own "thank you."

...which sometimes leads to the comical/absurd repetitive sequence of never ending "Thank you...no, thank you, oh no...thank you". and so on..ha! :)

Share this post


Link to post
"... I could've cared less"

-d-

This one is maybe something somebody can answer. I always thought it was 'I couldn't care less', but then a lot of people say 'I could care less' and always mean the same thing. Is one of them more right than the other.

That is what I meant - the phrase only really makes sense when it is "I couldn't care less"; as in: it is so unimportant to me. When the person saying it gets slightly confused and says instead, "I could have cared less", then it means the opposite.

(or it does to me)

I have noticed that " I could've cared less" has been used for a long time, but it still bothers me.

-d-

Share this post


Link to post

(1) "I love the ballet." (When spoken by someone who can name only one, Swan Lake.)

I would guess that people who really do love "the ballet" tend to say "ballet" without the "the."

(2) Over-reporting on what "I like" and what "I don't like." For example ... last night after a performance I overhead a threesome who were meandering very slowly down the the sidewalk. The speakers were, incidentally, blocking the entire sidewalk for those who wanted to walk faster. :)

"I liked the first one. I didn't like the second one. I didn't like the third one."

"Which one was Swan Lake, the first one? I liked that but I didn't like the second one. I liked the last one."

"I liked them all. Where do you want to eat?"

Conversations like this tend to be loud. My amazement was compounded by the fact that they had apparently not even looked at the advertising, the posters, or even the program. For the record, "the second one" was Four Temperaments and the "last one" was In the Upper Room. The first one was indeed Swan Lake. :o In the Balancine version.

Share this post


Link to post

'Meh' enters the dictionary.

"This is a new interjection from the U.S. that seems to have inveigled its way into common speech over here," McKeown said. "Internet forums and e-mail are playing a big part in formalizing the spellings of vocal interjections like these. A couple of other examples would be 'hmm' and 'heh.'

"Meh" was selected by Collins after it asked people to submit words they use in conversation that are not in the dictionary. Other suggestions included jargonaut, a fan of jargon; frenemy, an enemy disguised as a friend; and huggles, a hybrid of hugs and snuggles.

Share this post


Link to post