We all have them. Those words and phrases that; when heard, drive us up the wall. I’ve worked with people who wanted to “aks” a question, “pacific” to what they were “supposably” working on. Grrrrr. I have also been asked to wait a second while another co-worker was “conversating” with someone else.
Wow..you can’t imagine how hard that was for me to write! My brain hurts now.
You see, I grew up with the grammar police. My mother was a stickler for saying things correctly. I went from saying I did something “on accident” to “accidentally” because my mother constantly insisted I say “by accident”. I never told her that I looked it up and either is acceptable, although “on accident” was adapted primarily in the U.S., and in written word “by accident” is considered proper. I stopped saying “unfortunately” when speaking with customers because my manager at the time informed me that “regrettably” means “I’m sorry,” but “unfortunately” means “tough luck for you!” – think Ursula in The Little Mermaid, “you poor unfortunate soul”. Again, if you look it up, both have pretty much the same actual meaning, but convey a different tone. You know, like how some people find absolutely nothing wrong with the phrase “you people”, while it invokes a defensive stance in others because it’s typically used at moments of frustration.
So over the years, I’ve been on the lookout for these types of things. For example, why would anyone say “5am in the morning” – when we all know that 5am can only be in the morning? What does it say if my voicemail greeting says “I’ll return your call at my earliest convenience”? To me, that says, “I’m too busy for the likes of you!” You see, you ask someone to return your call at their earliest convenience, but you return their call at your earliest opportunity (or as soon as possible, if you’d rather be more direct).
Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in words that are typically not verbs being used as such in marketing and it annoys me. “Brain Better!” “Summer on!” I can give a little leeway with “Mom/Dad on!” although I know these are nouns and mom and dad sure are active, but we really shouldn’t be using them in this manner. Thankfully, some of these will vanish as quickly as they came, but in the meantime, I do my best to ignore them.
Many articles have been written about changing corporate language and dropping buzzwords, so I won’t go on and on about that. You’re welcome.
A couple of years ago, my friend and former roommate and I had an entire conversation based on this subject and we compiled a list. She posted it on her website and received such an overwhelming response, it led to a 3-part series, so clearly, she and I are not the only ones who wish people would Quit Saying That!
Okay, fellow officers of the grammar police, what words or phrases set your teeth on edge? Feel free to share!