Saturday, 9 January 2010
There are lots of words and phrases that annoy me. Why?
Because they are repeated ad nauseam or, worse, their meaning has been hijacked, mutilated, perverted and then thrust back into the English language in order to annoy and irritate me.
I think the easiest thing to do is to give you examples of what I mean. This is the first in a series of posts about word abuse and misuse of phrases. Here are some examples.
Solution – There was a time when the word solution grazed peacefully in the dictionary, happy in the knowledge that its meaning was clear. Now, business “gurus” (see later) have misrepresented its meaning. We now see companies who make signs, for example, using the phrase “for all your signage solutions – come to Signs-R-Us”.
System – I work in IT and to me the word system describes something complex. I do not expect a razor to be described as a “facial hair removal system”. It’s just a bloody razor. I am not going to buy it just because you use buzzwords incorrectly to make it sound more than it is. What’s next? Cat food being described as a “feline nourishment system”?
Guru – A guru is somebody with a fantastic wealth of knowledge but business idiots have kidnapped this word and used in job titles to describe people who know a little bit about something but claim to know more. “I am a management guru” basically means “I am a bullshitter” in my view.
Gate – A gate is something that you walk through, a kind of outdoor door (if you catch my drift). So why the hell is the word “gate” added to any bloody scandal? It all started with the “Watergate” scandal when the ex-boss of that country across the pond resigned his post. Now we add “gate” to any scandal anywhere in the bloody world. For example: cheating rugby players who bite on blood capsules to get substituted by feigning injury becomes “Bloodgate”; dodgy phone calls between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles becomes “Camillagate”; when president Clinton can’t keep his hands of one of his interns, Monica Lewinsky , it becomes “Monicagate”; when Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand left a rude message on Andrew Sachs’ answer phone in a controversy that was exploded out of all proportions, it became “Manuelgate” because Sachs played Manuel, a Spanish waiter in “Fawlty Towers”. So if I get involved in a national scandal would it become "Mancuniangate"?
Green – Climate change and global warming are a particular source of annoyance for me. There is scientific evidence that the Earth is warming up and climate is changing and there are a bunch of envionmentalists or “eco-warriors” who have taken it upon themselves to blame human beings. In my humble opinion, climate change is inevitable and is part of the natural cycle and governments worldwide are using it to control their people. Al Gore – failed president – holds a series of rock concerts worldwide in order to bring this to our attention and each concert consumes gigawatts of power and is about as environmentally friendly as a small nuclear explosion. Why did he do it? Because he lost to George W Bush and needed to prove his manliness - so off he went on a campaign to make himself look like the alpha male that he thinks he is. Sadly, because of people like Al Gore, politicians and weird beards have hijacked “green” to represent their views and make the rest of us feel guilty for switching on our lights.
Journey – The word “journey” is misused by reality TV and media moguls to describe the story of a Z-list celebrity’s appearance on a lame reality TV show, or, typically, a useless karaoke singer attempting to win a Simon Cowell produced talent contest like “X Factor” or “Pop Idol”. When the final is reached we hear of singer Lolita Barsteward’s “journey” from the audition to being mobbed outside her house by sad bunch of idiots whose musical taste is extremely poor and who believe everything they read in the tabloid newspapers about Lolita’s terrible upbringing. “Lolita has struggled against adversity all of her life and now, thanks to X Factor, has achieved her dream. Since the audition, she has embarked upon a journey and now her dream has been realised”. The fact that Lolita is a talentless muppet seems to escape the media hype.
Give it up for – This phrase makes my teeth itch. Trendy TV presenters usually use this phrase when introducing a new trendy singer or a youthful comedian, in order to get the audience to applaud in rapture. “Give up for Whizzbang McLozenge”
At the end of the day – Every single footballer you see interviewed in England uses this phrase. A lot of so-called intelligent pundits also use this phrase. But what the hell does it actually mean? “At the end of the day, the manager calls the shots.”; “At the end of the day, we lost because they were the better team.”; “At the end of the day he deserved the red card”. I would love one of them to say “At the end of the day, the sun goes down and it gets dark.”
Most anticipated – There is a musical genre that I can’t quite classify. Artists in this genre are singer/songwriters with strange voices who sing weird songs that you will never hear on X Factor. These songs, and the albums they appear on, all have cosmic titles. The album usually features a picture of the artist in a weird “artistic” pose and is called something like “Movements in the inner sanctum of Dave Bogus”. When the advert appears on TV it is accompanied by Dave Bogus wailing over his guitar with phrases like “Bogus opens his mouth and bares his soul”. But the phrase “most anticipated” is also used – all the time. “Movements in the inner sanctum of Dave Bogus is the most anticipated album of 2010”. No it bloody well isn’t. And who is Dave Bogus anyway? I’ve never even bloody heard of him. How can his album be “the most anticipated album of 2010?”
National Treasure – It’s official. When Ozzy Osbourne made a complete arse of himself on reality TV show “The Osbournes”, he rocketed to fame once more. His days with Black Sabbath were long forgotten. The fact that the band was shunned by all but the most rebellious teenagers (I was one such rebellious teenager) is forgotten. The fact that Ozzy was a typical over the top rock star who walked hand in hand with controversy all of his life, pissing up against the Alamo, biting the heads of animals and drinking so much alcohol that he literally lost days in nebulous inebriation is suddenly forgotten. You see, Ozzy has become a “National Treasure”, that is an old famous person who is still around and somehow still doing what he has always done. Stephen Fry is now a National Treasure as is Bruce Forsyth and countless other entertainers. GRRRRR!!!!!!
New improved and whiter than white – Washing powder is used to clean your clothes. Your white clothes are particularly lucky because there are so many washing powders on the market that make your whites whiter than white that you are spoilt for choice. I have a problem though and it is not because I can’t decide which one to choose. My problem is this: what the hell does whiter than white actually mean? How can something that is white also be whiter than white? IT’S WHITE for crying out loud. Adverts demonstrate this by washing a white shirt and holding it up to the sunlight before comparing it with another white shirt washed “in another leading brand”. One is so white that you have to wear sunglasses to look at it. The other is a dull white. Choice made – I will buy Razzledazzle. Next year, however, we get new improved Razzledazzle that makes your white shirts even more whiter than white. This time they show a white shirt washed in original Razzledazzle and another one washed in new improved RazzleDazzle which ends up being so bright that it looks like a nuclear explosion. Except it doesn’t – and we are so stupid that we go out and buy this new crap that is almost certainly the same as the old stuff. I want to see the logical progression of whiter than white because if the improvement is as exponential as the advertising campaign suggests then our vision will never be strong enough to view future items washed in new improved Razzledazzle – we’ll all be blind.
That’s enough for now.
I’m sure, dear reader, that there are lots of phrases and abused words out there that have annoyed and angered you as much as the list above have annoyed me. Please feel free to comment and let me know which words and phrases irritate you. I am all ears. Together we can rescue these words and phrases and redefine them back to their original meaning.
I have a huge list, which I will relate to you in a later post.