Friday, August 15, 2008

Words and Phrases That Inexplicably Grate on My Nerves

I'm going to take a break from political writing today to talk about something way more important: words and phrases that I dislike. Sure, there are the common disliked words like "moist," "slacks," and "dowdy." I could go on and on with a list of those.

But, for some reason I have a very strong, perhaps irrational, aversion to certain other (perhaps) more benign words and phrases. I'm sure that my dislike of such words makes me sort of a high-maintenance, hard-to-please friend. For, even when I play it off like the offending word usage doesn't bother me, I secretly judge the other person as being a grating-word user. In trying to cover my displeasure, I sort of tune out what the person is saying and hope that the conversation can just be over already.

Sorry to all of my friends and anyone else I encounter.

1. Dude

For some inexplicable reason, I hate, hate, hate it when people over the age of, say, 18 use the word "dude." Unfortunately, we have a generation of people in their mid-20s to mid-30s who still regularly use the word "dude" in conversation. Like pasty middle-aged men who continue to wear backwards baseball caps under the mistaken impression that their college days weren't too long ago, it's just not age-appropriate.

Say "dude" at home, say it in front of your Playstation, but do not say this word around me and never, ever, ever refer to me as "dude."

2. Know What I Mean?

Then, of course, there's the overused approval-seeking phrase "know what I mean?" that has become an automatic addendum to some people's (you know who you are) every utterance. This phrase grates on my nerves because it has been my experience that it is often, but not always, used by people as a way to get others to say "yes" to what they are saying even though the person is really saying "yes, I know what you mean" rather than "yes, I agree with what you are saying." It's a big difference, but not one that matters to some people.

But worse, and perhaps this is why I most hate the phrase, it's used by people who are essentially spouting of a long, boring, and rambling monologue but who, in order to present the appearance of dialogue, occasionally throw in this question which conveniently only demands a simple yes/no (usually yes) answer.

In any event, I see it mostly as a mechanism for the insecure. Yes, I suppose it's bitchy of me to say, but have the courage to stand behind your words instead of seeking constant pseudo-agreement in a roundabout manner.

3. (Missing) Articles About Mothers and Babies

Another language pet peeve of mine is when magazines, usually in the form of an US Weekly-type trashy mag showcase on [insert famous woman's] recent birth. For a completely made-up example, an article discussing Brangelina's latest baby will saying something like: "Brad, whose latest child was born in Kwaxaikstan, says that mom and baby are fine." "Mom," of course, refers to Angelina. I mean, what is the principle at work here that makes writers and editors leave out the "the" or "mom's" name? Is it really so tedious to write? Would it push "writer" over that 200-word limit?

I just don't get it. If you read these trashy mags as much as I do, I know you know what I'm talking about.

Now, if you use these words and phrases, I hope this article doesn't offend you. I mean, that these words and phrases annoy me is much more likely due to my own neuroses than it is due to shortcomings of your own. I can own that.

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