kfw

Top Ten Irritating Phrases

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Damon Runyon used to use that sometimes, but it's had a New Birth of Redundancy as businesses and governments, ever vigilant for the litigatable moment, have informed employees that if they give opinions, they must be couched in self-disclaimers which are capable of conveying that the matter is opinion, and not empirical fact. "Speaking now only for myself, and not the museum...."

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One linguistic fad I find especially ugly is the use of the present tense when it's the past that's being spoken of. For example, "So now he buys . . . " instead of "so then he bought . . ." Sportscasters do this a lot, but I hear talking heads on political shows doing it too.
I've been thinking about this and can't make up my mind. Films do create the sense of a perpetual present. For example: "Now Bergman comes into the bar and Rick sees her." Using the past tense would suggest that you were talking narrowly about the time of shooting.

Maybe this has carried over to television, the land of the instant replay and the endless repetition of iconic visuial images.

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This formation exists in Modern German, and some other languages. It's called "Historical Present". Maybe we're seeing some linguistic crossover.

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This formation exists in Modern German, and some other languages. It's called "Historical Present". Maybe we're seeing some linguistic crossover.
This could be right.

In the U.S., use of the historical present is apparently increasing among bilingual speaks in a number of languages. This process affects both those for whom English is a second language and the younger generation who are fluent in both languages but use English primarily for school and work.

Among bilingual Spanish-speakers in the U.S., the more complicated verb tenses, gender agreement, etc., are often dropped. Simplification seems to be the main motivator, but changes in the way language is taught are probably factors too.

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One linguistic fad I find especially ugly is the use of the present tense when it's the past that's being spoken of. For example, "So now he buys . . . " instead of "so then he bought . . ." Sportscasters do this a lot, but I hear talking heads on political shows doing it too.

I don't know how much of a fad it is, at least from a literary standpoint. Henry Fielding made fun of the extraordinary use of the present tense in Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela (1740), a book in which the lead character, a servant girl, seems always to be narrating her adventures (such as those with her amorous master) in letters even as she's experiencing them. In Shamela, Fielding's Pamela satire of 1741, Shamela writes: "Mrs. Jervis and I are just in Bed, and the Door unlocked; if my Master should come -- Odsbobs! I hear him just coming in at the Door. You see I write in the present Tense, as Parson Williams says. Well, he is in Bed between us, we both shamming a Sleep, he steals his Hand into my Bosom, which I, as if in my Sleep, press close to me with mine, and then pretend to awake." And so on.

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Films do create the sense of a perpetual present. For example: "Now Bergman comes into the bar and Rick sees her." Using the past tense would suggest that you were talking narrowly about the time of shooting.

Maybe this has carried over to television, the land of the instant replay and the endless repetition of iconic visuial images.

Your example of Rick and Ilsa (Bogey and Bergman) is the tense required for a "treatment" which is the format used before the actual screenplay is written. The accepted standard treatment format is present tense (historical or not I wouldn't know), and has endless punctuation and spacing rules (ditto screenplays) which must be followed if you don't want the 'clueless ones' who "read" your masterpiece to toss it into the trash before the 'great ones'-behind- the-big-desks get to see it. If the reader likes it, then the real negotiations can start.**

Now you can look forward to seeing your resultant screenplay optioned, put into turnaround, or shelved for numerous years and unexplained delays, and eventually become so changed by the director, star, or marketing/business execs no one recognizes it. Consequently, you have to take your name off it to preserve your integrity, thereby saving everyone a lot of money, until you sue them for stealing your original story/treatment idea. At which point, the studios/networks/distributors will cry poverty because they overpaid everyone but you and so didn't make any money on theatrical releases, ancillary income, or overseas sales, which causes the WGA to call for a strike. END RESULT: We get 'same ol' same ol' forever and ever, endlessly re-run because no one in Hollywood wants to risk anything or trust anyone.

(**All the above assumes you have a means of getting the treatment "read" in the first place.) Sorry this is OT.

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As I watch the ice rink that my street has become I'm reminded of another overused and irritating phrase used to describe slick road conditions, "It's a sheet of ice out there!".

I've lived off and on in the Midwest almost my entire life and have heard this phrase for as long as I can remember. Is this a uniquely Midwestern saying? East Coasters what do you say?

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As I watch the ice rink that my street has become I'm reminded of another overused and irritating phrase used to describe slick road conditions, "It's a sheet of ice out there!".

I've lived off and on in the Midwest almost my entire life and have heard this phrase for as long as I can remember. Is this a uniquely Midwestern saying? East Coasters what do you say?

Perky,

In NJ we say:

"It's a sheet of ice out there !"

I guess it not such a regional saying! That being said, since just this morning we had "a sheet of ice out there" as part of our third winter storm in 5 days, I would guess that out in the midwest you deal with these "sheets of ice" better than the horrible drivers here in NJ do!

Holiday wishes (with no more ice!) to all

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As I watch the ice rink that my street has become I'm reminded of another overused and irritating phrase used to describe slick road conditions, "It's a sheet of ice out there!".

I've lived off and on in the Midwest almost my entire life and have heard this phrase for as long as I can remember. Is this a uniquely Midwestern saying? East Coasters what do you say?

Mostly "Oh, sheet!" :o:devil:

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I was just on the phone and heard something that was definitely "irritating," so I thought I'd revive this thread in order to grumble. :)

Recently I've noticed that answering machines for small businesses -- even ballet schools !!! :o -- ask you to leave a message, stating: "and we will return your call at your earliest convenience."

Well, MY 'earliest convenience" would be NOW, actually. Or at a time when I was available to answer the returned call.

When did "at your earliest convenience" replace "at my earliest convenience" in such messages? Do people think it sounds nicer and therefore not notice that it makes no sense?

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"Oh, sheet!" :o:)

Oh Merde!! :o

"Ay, carajo! " :D

"Frickin'." Where did that come from, anyway? F------ + chicken?

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I was just on the phone and heard something that was definitely "irritating," so I thought I'd revive this thread in order to grumble. :)

Recently I've noticed that answering machines for small businesses -- even ballet schools !!! :o -- ask you to leave a message, stating: "and we will return your call at your earliest convenience."

Well, MY 'earliest convenience" would be NOW, actually. Or at a time when I was available to answer the returned call.

When did "at your earliest convenience" replace "at my earliest convenience" in such messages? Do people think it sounds nicer and therefore not notice that it makes no sense?

This is a new one to me! Sure they're not saying "our" (the royal we)?

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"Oh, sheet!" :o:)

Oh Merde!! :o

"Ay, carajo! " :D

"Frickin'." Where did that come from, anyway? F------ + chicken?

(Or is is "friggin'"?)

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(With emphasized nasal, high pitched voice...particularly among some females...): "Oh my Gaaaaaaaawsh..." :)

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Ok, I can explain the Starbucks issue. The original sizes were Short (10 oz.), Tall (12 oz.), and Grande (16 oz.). Customers complained that the Grande was not large enough, so Starbucks added the Venti (20 oz.--'venti' means 'twenty' in Italian), and people eventually stopped ordering the Short size, so they removed it from the menu. Whether the fault lies with Starbucks for insisting on cutesy/pretentious names for its sizes or with American gluttony, I leave to you. :thumbsup: I think it's somewhere in between.

Perhaps I'm living in an anomaly, but the Starbucks shops here still serve short drinks. I had one yesterday.

I do agree, though, about the dwindling of small sizes. The smallest drink at McDonalds seems to be a 'regular,' and the next size up is 'large.' And the 'medium' at Jack in the Box (they don't seem to have a small, except for children) seemed to be around 20 ounces.

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"The." Yes, I'm complaining about an article! "Jake Gyllenhaal: the Rolling Stones Interview" (will they never run another?), "Batman: the Movie" (in case you thought you were entering the theater to read a comic book), "NBA: the Store" (what's wrong with "The NBA Store"?). This is pure advertising idiocy, meant to sell us a new incarnation of a popular brand name, and it turns everybody and everything into trademarked merchandise.

I'm not sure if this usage comes from the online/search world, but it occurs to me that it reinforces the main topic (that is Batman or the NBA) by using it as a kind of base word for all the other variations. Written like this (Batman: the Movie, Batman: the Graphic Novel, Batman: the Soundtrack), in an alphabetized list, or in a set of results from a search, all these entries would appear together.

Yes, the colon creates a false sense of importance in the phrase (like a little fanfare as you enter the room), but it does have a possibly unintended, but useful result.

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

...

university students being described as stakeholders

I like that better than students being described as consumers.

This thread has a therapeutic quality!

Yes, it does! I didn't follow from the beginning, which is why I've got a little cluster of replies here.

I don't mind regional variations, like the difference between standing in line in Seattle and standing on line in New York City. My particular grump is the redundant phrase "The reason is because ..." How about either "The reason is ..." or "It works this way because ..."

Ah, that was refreshing!

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As I watch the ice rink that my street has become I'm reminded of another overused and irritating phrase used to describe slick road conditions, "It's a sheet of ice out there!".

I've lived off and on in the Midwest almost my entire life and have heard this phrase for as long as I can remember. Is this a uniquely Midwestern saying? East Coasters what do you say?

Perky,

In NJ we say:

"It's a sheet of ice out there !"

I guess it not such a regional saying! That being said, since just this morning we had "a sheet of ice out there" as part of our third winter storm in 5 days, I would guess that out in the midwest you deal with these "sheets of ice" better than the horrible drivers here in NJ do!

Holiday wishes (with no more ice!) to all

In Seattle we had sheets of ice out there for most of the holidays.

Which I suppose is better than having those sheets inside.

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As I watch the ice rink that my street has become I'm reminded of another overused and irritating phrase used to describe slick road conditions, "It's a sheet of ice out there!".

I've lived off and on in the Midwest almost my entire life and have heard this phrase for as long as I can remember. Is this a uniquely Midwestern saying? East Coasters what do you say?

Perky,

In NJ we say:

"It's a sheet of ice out there !"

I guess it not such a regional saying! That being said, since just this morning we had "a sheet of ice out there" as part of our third winter storm in 5 days, I would guess that out in the midwest you deal with these "sheets of ice" better than the horrible drivers here in NJ do!

Holiday wishes (with no more ice!) to all

In Seattle we had sheets of ice out there for most of the holidays.

Which I suppose is better than having those sheets inside.

In Pittsburgh, where I used to live, they would say "It's slippy outside" (with "outside" pronounced "ahtside")

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"Oh, sheet!" :o:)

Oh Merde!! :dunno:

"Ay, carajo! " :D

"Frickin'." Where did that come from, anyway? F------ + chicken? (Or is is "friggin'"?)

It's 'friggin', which I like very much and use often. That's actually old, but I noticed both 'frikkin' and 'freakin' beggining to crop up about mid-90's. I hear these a lot everywhere, in the subways or stores, and they're even written a lot on the internet.

Which reminds me, I don't really like any of the internet-born words and phrases that I can think of.

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"Frickin'." Where did that come from, anyway? F------ + chicken? (Or is is "friggin'"?)

It's 'friggin', which I like very much and use often. That's actually old, but I noticed both 'frikkin' and 'freakin' beggining to crop up about mid-90's. I hear these a lot everywhere, in the subways or stores, and they're even written a lot on the internet.

Which reminds me, I don't really like any of the internet-born words and phrases that I can think of.

I hear both "frickin'" and "friggin'," as well as "fraking" (the last seems to have come from the television series Battlestar Galactica).

But I usually prefer the original.

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