Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Designed to annoy

The Telegraph is currently running a competition to find the most annoying phrases in the English language. Some great reader comments can be seen here.

My own Top Five are as follows:

1. Going Forward. Management jargon for "in the future." I hear this one approximately twice a day in my current workplace.

2. Winterval. Or in fact any so-called politically correct terminology that takes Christ out of Christmas (eg cards that say "Happy Holidays!")

3. Fresh Turmoil. A phrase that became somewhat over-used by my former profession, usually as a means of keeping a political row story going for another day.

4. With respect. Which, as everyone who has ever had this said to them knows, means with absolutely no respect at all.

5. Next station stop, when used by railway announcers. As opposed, of course, to stops that occur between stations due to leaves on the line etc.

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Mark M Heenan said...

Just at the moment, I'd nominate "renewal"

Anonymous said...

Anyone for a bit of step change?

No thought not.

Tom said...

'You know'. I don't know, that's why I'm listening to you, you prat. It can be a useful warning sign that whoever you're talking to doesn't have a very good argument, though.

Anonymous said...

1. Going forward is often used to divert attention from past or current concerns. The first person I ever heard using this phrase was trying to convince me that we should store goods for his new company, despite the fact that he had run the old one into the ground, owing us £20,000.

2. Happy Holidays! is particularly irritating because it's a pointless Americanism. Any pagan blog readers might see your own preferred nomenclature as the historical Johnny-come-lately, whereas the appalling pun of Winterval might strike them as a contraction of Winter Festival.

4. With respect also seems to be used as an attempt to sugar the pill that follows. A bit like I'm not racist, but...

My own all-time chart-topper will be familiar to anyone who has ever worked in or around Hull:

I've had a sleep since then.

This useful phrase can be trotted out at any time to account for why you forgot to carry out a work instruction given a few days previously...or why you didn't come home last night...or where you were at the time of a murder.

Just tell them you've had a sleep since then. They can't touch you for it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Paul I had thought better of you than to fall for the repeated scare story about 'Winterval'. Had thought this was debunked years ago. People have been sending christmas cards with messages like 'Happy Holidays' and 'Compliments of the season' which don't explicitly mention christmas since the 19th century.

Unknown said...

I've no problem with Going forward .. it's not the phrase itself but the way it's used which irks.

Winterval was the creation of Birmingham City Council. Says so in Wikipedia - so it must be true ;^) It's a loathesome, contrived word and should be erased from history. Why can we not celebrate Christmas, Diwali et al?

We've an on-going discussion with our eldest son about sentences which begin "I don't mean to casue offence ..." or "Not being rude, but ...". He can't understand why people say it if it's not a valid disclaimer: neither do we.

Anonymous said...

I've thought of another...or, rather, another batch.

Parenting. "To parent" is not a verb. We really shouldn't start making up verbs from the nearest noun, or English will become a grey uniform mass.

"Child-rearing" has the same number of syllables, and doesn't make you sound like an oaf.

I also wince every morning when I listen to the Today programme, and hear about a new product being trial(l)ed [not sure what these people consult when they want an authority on spelling] or a new scheme being piloted.

Can we have our language back, please?

skipper said...

This sounds excessively Meldrewish but I wince every time I hear 'good luck'; it's such a vacuous, meaningless pleasantry- and, Blair, bizarrely, finished his speech with in Sedgefield(it's OK I'm considering therapy).

Normal Mouth said...

May I commend:

"Take it offline". Why not simply say "discuss it separately"? It doesn't take any more words and everyone knows what you mean.

"Can I get..." as in "Can I get a coffee?" not unless you're fetching it yourself - in which case why would you ask? "Can I have" does the job rather better.

Anonymous said...

In much the same vein as David Gladwin's wih respect comment, what about 'to be honest'.

An immediate and sure fire indicator of impeding duplicity.

I don't think you should do anymore posts like this Paul as it is clearly encouraging your readership to move into Meldrewism.

James Higham said...

Winterval is certainly a shocker but "outside the box" is one I particularly detest.