Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, the enormity of how this genius has done great to write such a seminal post about wordsies. Enjoy!!!!

The Irish Times published this piece yesterday about some of the most irritating words and expressions people use on a day-to-day basis, such as "whatever", "I, personally" and "basically". It's a good piece, though the sight of all these irritating phrases was enough to make me swear loudly to myself when I first read it.
Nevertheless,  in the spirit of whining curmudgeonliness, I've decided to compile my own list of things people say that rub me up the wrong way.

Seminal: 'Seminal' comes from a Greek word meaning seed, the same root from which we get the word 'semen'. It is often used by music and film critics to denote how influential something is or was, e.g. "The Beatles were a seminal band", meaning that they sowed the seeds that led to many other bands. It does not simply mean that they are important. Sports broadcasters regularly fail to realise this. When Bill O'Herlihy excitedly welcomes viewers to "this seminal match for Ireland" he is eschewing much more suitable words like 'crucial', 'critical', or y'know, 'very important' because he thinks this one makes him sound clever. Only if you want to cover Kevin Kilbane in spunk, Billo.

Enjoy: How often are you in a shop or restaurant now where someone hands you what you've asked for and instructs you to "enjoy"? It's a pretty harmless statement, but it feels as unnecessary and platitudinal as "have a nice day". I mean, chances are I wil enjoy my lemon meringue tart and cappuccino, but I don't need your fucking permission, thanks. I could swear it only crept into common usage here about five years ago, but it's ubiquitous now. I could probably develop something of a dough-based crush on the young lady who works in the bakery near my house, were it not for the fact that she concludes every single one of our transactions with "enjoy". It's batch loaf, love, it's as much about staying alive as it is enjoyment.

-sies: "Wantsies!" "Ooh, you've bought your engagement ring, showsies!" "That's a big Mars bar, sharesies?"
It was probably cute when this one started, but it's dancing all over my metaphorical tits by now. I imagine it's only going to keep growing, too. This one should never, fucking ever, be attempted by any straight male over the age of three and a half. Try responding to the next 'sies' you get with a swift "piss offsies".

Enormity: Do you know what enormity actually means? It means 'outrageousness' or 'extreme wickedness'. Honestly. Somewhere along the way someone noticed that it sounds an awful lot like 'enormous' and started using it that way. It's perhaps due to sentences such as "the enormity of the Holocaust", where people assumed it referred to the scale of it, rather than the evilness. Kingsley Amis once wrote something to the effect that we "must battle against the enormity of using enormity to mean enormous." He lost.
"John, we can't underestimate the enormity of this match, can we?"
"No, we can't, Bill."

Genius: Probably the most misused word in the English language. Geniuses of our time include Wayne Rooney, Brian O'Driscoll, Peter Jackson, Robert de Niro and my postman. They're just very good at what they do, is all.* A fellow blogger once referred to Lampsy, the guy who puts pictures of lamps with the caption "I love lamp" all over Dublin as a genius. I had to be restrained from leaving a snotty comment. he's just a guy who likes Anchorman and has too much time on his hands, is all.

The death of the adverb: "The lad's done brilliant to get his shot in from there." Sports broadcasters can, once again, take a bow. Apparently you sound snobby if you tack 'ly' onto the end of adjectives, as the decline in their usage appears to be quite wilful at this stage. It's spreading elsewhere, too. The only instance where it's acceptable to forego the 'ly' is 'shite', as "he's playing shitely tonight" sounds stupid.

Readers, do feel free to wade in with your own pet peeves. 'Pet peeves' should probably be amongst them, disgusting phrase that it is.

*Except my postie, who regularly fails to deliver post to our flat because he's afraid he might slip on the steps. The pizza flyer guys don't seem to mind, the beautiful little geniuses.

17 comment(s):

Radge said...

"He's came for it, Darragh..."

"He's took it well, Ger Canning."

I don't mind Ray Houghton/Charlie Nicholas/Alan McInally, but there's something the Scottish blood that just can't deal with the past perfect.

Radge said...

'Something in the Scottish blood,' even.

I couldn't leave it. I'm off to get drunk now.

Anonymous said...

An obvious one: random.

I'm guilty of using the -sies suffix. I'm sorry. It's kind of funsies.

Catherine said...

I've got to stop saying "epic fail". I'm annoying myself with it now.

And this is more of a grammar pet peeve but it bugs the living shit out of me when people delimit perfectly valid sentences with question marks. Such as "This song? Will change your life."


Kitty Catastrophe said...

I don't like the word 'zany'. If someone is described as such, I'll just think that means they're an asshole.

Sarah Gostrangely said...

A beautiferous post, Andrew, much enjoyed and giggled.

Pet peeve is horrendous.

-sies is waaay too simpery. And people pretending they are puppies or toddlers: babytalk with an O.C. uplift at the end.

Anna and Tom are going to the cinema.
Tom: Do you want popcorn?
Anna: Does Amma wan pop-torn?!?! Av CAWSE, it the movies! Av cawse Amma wan pop-torn, silly!?!?!!!!
Tom: You're a wanker.


Apologies for the long rant; I may have had someone in mind.

Unknown said...

Anything with an s and an unecessary or wrongly placed apostrophe.

It's a fixation, I get posessive about plurals' apostrophes.

Jo said...

My husband keeps saying 'deffo' in a Sallynoggin accent he's borrowed of his bandmates. And 'massive'.

It makes me want to kick him in the nuts.

Annie said...


People who count down to soemthing they are really looking forward to by how many "sleeps" there will be before the day arrives. Arrfgh.

Andrew said...

Sorry for the slow reply, folks, I was away for a few days and I prefer to pretend the internet doesn't exist during such times.

Radge - It's funny, I've noticed those guys doing that but for some reason it's never grated with me. It must just be that I like the Scottish accent, because I imagine that if Pat Dolan was to start doing it I would have to track him down and beat his face in with a plastic mallet.

Eimear - I've done it enough times myself, the dangerous thing is when it ceases to become a knowingly silly thing that you say, and assimilates itself into your general speech.

Catherine - "Epic win" might be even worse, you haven't taken to saying that, have you?
And this thing? In almost every post by a certain blogger.

Kitty Cat - And you'd be right.

Sarah - I think it's important that you inflict a lot of pain on that someone in mind.

Conan - I'm always morbidly fascinated by the thought processes that must go through people's minds when abusing apostrophes.

Half price cucumbers, cabbages and tomato's = "Right, there's a vowel on the end of 'tomato,' so that must get an apostrophe."

I read the papers every day and several blog's = "I think 'blog' is a relatively recent addition to the English language, so that must get an apostrophe."

Jo - You have enough children now, right? Don't fight the urge.

Annie - Does anyone over the age of nine really do that?
I guess the message coming from people here is that cutesy-wutesy expressions from adults are totally not on.
Unless it's me and I'm with the ladyfriend, in which case I reserve the right to scrunch up my face and say "Aw, would you look at the lickle doggle! Hewwo, do you want to be my doggle friend?"
That's fine, obviously.

Rosie said...

fine, and frequent.

T cup said...

people who say "in relation to.." and "but i digress...'
i have to fall short of calling these people wankers as my BF uses those phrases at work,

a lot!

oh and i hate the word sarny instead of sandwich i dint mind sambo it's just sarny makes me want to shout.

anne: oh Tcup will we get a sarny for later

Anonymous said...

You're right about the sneaky assimilation thing. I've started saying things like "lol" and "totes" in a non-ironic way, e.g. "That was totes a lolfest." I disgust myself.

Jo said...

I didn't think totes was here yet, but then I'm old, and I don't twitter.

It's hideous. It has no redeeming features. I do not understand that one at all.

B said...

All that 4chan/somethingawful talk annoys me, all the more when it gets used in reality (which is horrifyingly common... amongst students anyway) but that's more to do with how it immediately makes me think the person's mentally ill.
In general I couldn't care less though.

Huh, there's a funny bit there.

She Likes It Loud said...

I have so many current annoyances but "rock star" is still the throat cutter for me. I ranted a while back about this, but it continues to poison American phrasing all these months later.

Jennikybooky said...

-sies makes me want to embark on a murderous rampage.