There are many clichéd uses of words that people, especially it seems,
radio reporters, pick up and copy unthinkingly.
Please give a bit of thought to how you use your bloody words!
Sometimes adopting a term for a new meaning adds something to English;
for example to use 'about-face' – which literally means 'to spin
around by 180 degrees' – to indicate a radical
change of stance is useful and produces an appropriate mental image.
But to use 'back-flip' – where the person comes out of the maneuver
facing the same direction as when he went in – for the same purpose
is simply stupid, yet 'back-flip' is much more commonly used than
Sometimes it is useful to adopt a word from another language when there is
a lack of an appropriate word in English.
The French word 'genre' is an example of this; but did we really need it,
wouldn't one of the English words: 'type', 'sort', 'class', 'kind' serve
the same purpose in nearly all cases?
I have the impression that many people use 'genre' and similarly borrowed
words because they believe that it makes them sound erudite.
Unfortunately, even the announcers of Aunty (the ABC) are using some
of the prostitutions below.
Whoa and alack, what is to become of the world!?
Specific examples of misuses of English that really piss me off
- At the end of the day
- How overworked this one is!
If it was just used once in a while it would be quite acceptable, but some
people seem to have to use it every ten seconds.
Why not just 'in the end' or 'the result was' or similar?
It is foolish to use a cliché if you can avoid it.
- At this point in time
- Why use five words when one will do, 'now'?
- So many people don't know that decimate means to kill every tenth person
(from a punishment used on Roman legions that showed insufficient willingness
to confront the enemy).
Decimate is often used when most of a group is killed, not just 10%.
- Since about the middle of 2008 anyone who receives an award, wins
political office or any
sort of accolade has to respond by saying that they are humbled.
Isn't this contradictory?
How can you be humbled when you are being celebrated?
Humbled has a very similar meaning to humiliated.
- Obviously this word is the opposite of 'credible'.
Credible means believable, incredible means 'beyond credibility', 'not to be believed'; but most people use it to mean 'exciting', 'beautiful', 'surprising', 'wonderful', etc. Similarly 'incredibly' is often used when 'very' is meant.
Why misuse one word when there are others that can quite correctly be used?
Unbelievable, which is a synonym of
incredible, is often similarly misused.
- The younger generation often throw 'like' into a sentence more or less at random and quite without need or meaning. I was amused during a walk for solar thermal power. When the walk leader, a very intelligent, articulate and well motivated young man, spoke to the young people in the group he would throw 'likes' into his sentences, but when he spoke to my group of old people the 'likes' would disappear. I suspect that it was subconscious.
- "He literally exploded with anger".
It would be an interesting sight!
- The word is spelled 'nuclear' and pronounced 'new clear'; what's
difficult about that?
- Road map
- To listen to the radio or television one might think that nobody makes plans any more. It's always a 'road map'. In what way is 'road map' a better term for a plan than 'plan'?
- No-one uses the perfectly good word 'explain' any more.
"He spelled-out the details of the new law in the press release".
Of course he did, you twit, if it was in writing it had to be spelled-out.
(Has this become less common by 2018?)
- Much the same as 'incredible'.
- The word 'develop' is much more suitable most of the time when 'unfold' is used.
(A friend once told me that I hear 'unfold' used in this way because I live in an 'unfolded' country.)
- The word has an 'L' in it morons;
'vulnerable', it should be pronounced 'vol-ner-able'.
- "Yeah, no"
- This, for some reason that I entirely miss, has become very common in
the last few years.
It might be used in sentences like, "Yeah, no, it's been very dry lately",
or "Yeah, no, I know what you mean".
It is always quite meaningless, since 'yeah' is the exact opposite of 'no'.
Plainly it is only used by people who give very little thought to what
they are saying.
'Yeah, no' is similar to
'Y'know', a meaningless filler.
- You know or y'know
- Many people throw this in at the end of every second sentence.
It is almost invariably a meaningless space filler.
If the listeners really did know, why would the speaker be telling us?
Starting a sentence (added mid 2018)
Please do not start a sentence with 'So' or 'I mean' without reason; it gets up my nose.
Any thoughts about others that should be added to the list?
- Defence forces
- What is usually meant by this is agression forces; for example,
when did US 'defence forces' last truely defend US territory?
- The first rolls off the tongue quite easily, the second is a verbal abomination.
- Not everyone lives in suburbs
- Many forms on the Net and elsewhere assume that everyone lives in a
suburb rather than in a town or in the bush.
For example, there is a box for Street No., Street Name, Suburb, and
Why can they not use 'Suburb/town' rather than 'Suburb'?