Monday, March 31, 2014

What drives you nuts, and why?

A current social media discussion takes on two of my least favorite American usages: transition as a verb, and issues as a substitute for problems.

One is verbal inflation, the other euphemism. Users of transition intend something more grandiose than change, and people who use issues generally want to avoid offending people who have problems.

To these I'd add channeling one's inner anything and "----ing the world, one ---- at a time." I think, too, we have reached the expiration date on commentators and reporters who refer to the Supreme Court justices as "the Supremes" and think they're being delightfully irreverent.

What usages, words, expressions, and quirks of linguistic fashion drive you nuts, and why?

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

Labels: , ,

16 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

I could write a book about irksome usages. Here are two.
(1) "The book is a fun read." (I wonder when the verb became a noun. I guess this is the newer, compact form of "The book is fun to read.")
(2) "He wanted to quickly answer the question." (I know that it is old-fashioned to complain about split infinitives, but I am old-fashioned, so I complain.)
Both of the foregoing are, without rhyme or reason, like fingernails on the blackboard to me. In fact, neither is really wrong in 2014 usage. They just annoy the hell out of me.

March 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm with you all the way on read as a noun.

I don't like splitting infinitives (though I also can't abide people who insist that doing so is wrong for any reason other than the one you cite),

My job lets me act differently according to the severity of the infraction. In the case of bad usages that do not rise to the level of mistakes, I will fix them if I am the original copy editor on a story, but I won't mark them up on a page proof if they make it that far after going through the original copy editor.

March 31, 2014  
Blogger Dana King said...

It bugs me when a book had been submitted, passed by who knows how many editors and proofreaders and still uses an incorrect homophone. "Reigh" when "rein" was correct, for example, which I saw done incorrectly two books in a row a few weeks ago.

At the end of the day, "at the end of the day" has long outlived its usefulness.

April 01, 2014  
Anonymous John N. said...

Here is one abomination making the rounds of the business world: the "written deliverable." Formerly known as "the report."

Awful.

April 01, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

How about "loathe" when the writer means "loath"? And vocal "chords" is a common error.


Dana, that bothers me, too, though small-press and self-published books seem to far outstrip traditionally published books in carelessness of editing (no, I do not include your books).

April 01, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I'm far enough from the business world that I had not heard that one. But that is just terrible--and thoroughly unsurprising, given that the business world specialized not just in euphemisms, but in euphemisms for its own euphemisms: Layoff/down-sizing/right/sizing or employee/associate/partner.

April 01, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Is an unwritten undeliverable simply a thought?

April 01, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Now, that's poetic.

April 01, 2014  
Anonymous John N said...

Peter, my brother said it best upon resigning his last job to embark on a career as a comedian: "Corporations suck."

And they'll suck the life out of language if we are not careful.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Corporations, government, any large body. Sure, corporations may be largely responsible for business jargon, but even consultants and small-business people use it and spread it. Small is usually, but by no means always, beautiful when it comes to language. And psychology, therapy, and social science must share a large part of the blame, too.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

I have considerable experience with two of the worst environments wherein the life is sucked out of language: (1) U.S. military (where I survived and learned to write poorly for 25 years); (2) academic (where I survived and fought against the corruption of language for 15 years). If you want to experience the transformation of simple language into tortured obfuscation, pursue a career in either of those worlds.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Become a consultant and put your experience to work, Your customers will WANT your jargon, will crave it, will pay lots of money for it.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Consultant? Me? Telling people how to write correctly? Nope! Not me!

Because of your career, you should know better than most people this simple truth: writers do not like to be corrected.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not telling people, R.T., helping them discover their own potential, or, it they pay you enough, potentialS, or if they pay you LOTS, potentialities.

My experience is even sadder: Too man writers don't care about being corrected.

April 02, 2014  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I'm nowhere near as intelligent as you are regarding language use (I looked up the "loathe/loath" thing thanks to this thread," though I believe I'm ahead of the masses.

I cringe at mistakes in magazines and newspapers that ought to know better, and I try to be patient with things like personal blogs, though enough confusion of third-grade words like "your" and "you're" or writing "alot" will make me lose my patience.

Some of the other types of things, like "issues", are trickier for me. As a freelancer, I have to adopt the voice of the magazine or site for which I'm writing. You would HATE the words I sling when I write a style guide for a shoe company with a young demographic or for ANY entertainment site or mag. (I'm glad most of this stuff is ghostwritten.)

When I see trendy—and often annoying—usages, I note them, because they might serve me well in adopting the right tone for a piece. I have an agency that loves to send me clients who need a hip, young voice. Neither she nor the clients suspect that I'm 46. I'm pretty proud of that, even if it IS the result of being able to mimic the current memes while simultaneously verbing my nouns.

April 06, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm so stuffy that I can remember when "demographic" was an adjective. But yes, knowing the tone of one's publication is important. Your heart and your head are in the right place if you fume alot or even occasionally over confusion of your and you're. I have confidence that you will keep trendy locutions to the minimum that will keep your employers thinking you're cool for your age.

Blogs are a trickier issue. Even those whose writers are literate lack editors. I know I will let occasional mistakes slip in out of enthusiasm or haste. That only points up the need for editors.

April 06, 2014  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home