They’re irritating and overused. Like the sound of fingernails of a blackboard, I cringe when I hear them. We’ve all got a few on our personal lists, but there are a handful that are universally accepted as obnoxious. Annoying phrases are everywhere.
I know I’m not the only one who wishes many of these phrases and words would go away. I know there are others like me out there who long for a return to a more genteel manner of speaking. (Now, I don’t want to swing to the opposite extreme. I don’t need to ask my son “with whom he will be going to the movies.”) But I would embrace the renaissance of a few polite and well-mannered phrases to replace some of the ones I feel just have to go.
The number one offender: “(I/she/he) was like.” Attention teenagers: this is not a verb phrase. If you want to describe what someone says, does, or feels, there are verbs for that purpose. Please learn how to use them.
Fusion words: combining two words, then dropping a syllable or two because you’re too lazy to say the whole thing. “ ‘Sup?” is the number one offending word in this category, but there are many, many more. “Dja-eat?” (“Did you eat?”) If the statement or question requires two words, please speak them both. Having a conversation reduced to a few grunted syllables is just rude and makes you sound like a cave man.
Overuse of the word, “Whatever.” This non-committal word usually means the responder disagrees with what you’re saying, but doesn’t have the energy or vocabulary to respond appropriately. Parents, beware. It does not imply agreement. It’s a verbal tool teenagers use to stop a conversation.
Interrogative words: What happened to them? Questions should begin with words like how, may, why, or did. Raising the pitch at the end of a phrase and inserting a question mark does not constitute a question. (“You went to the store?”)
The dreaded “No offense, but…” This phrase should just be stricken. No good can come of anything said after that phrase. This disclaimer does not give you license to say rude or ugly things, just because you’ve preceded the insult with a feigned politeness. Using the Southern cousin, “Bless his/her heart” (as in, “My aunt is crazy, bless her heart.”) after a put-down is just as offensive. Don’t do it.
Now, I realize that language is an evolving entity. Today’s vernacular is significantly different from that of just a few decades ago. Therefore — as with all things – this, too, shall pass. I just hope I live long enough to hear it happen.
For now, if you see me around and want to chat, avoid these phrases. Speak in complete sentences and leave out some of the slang. Let your language bear some resemblance to the mother tongue we learned in school. Please talk nerdy to me.
Which phrases make your head spin? Please share if I’ve left out the one that makes your head spin!
Coming soon: Part 2 – Nerdy words, and how to use them.