I’m supposed to be cleaning out my Mini which I’m selling
after 22 years – it’s no longer worth patching it up and I don’t feel safe
driving it on motorways. As a little light relief however (for me and, I
hope, you) I thought I might do a post on infuriating words and phrases.
Having been an editor and proofreader for some twenty
years, I’ve always had an annoying (to others) habit of editing and
proofreading everything I see and hear – graffiti, packaging, radio and television,
magazines, books – you name it. This involves not just grammar and
spelling but also phraseology, clichés and the correct use of words.
One of the less comfortable aspects of living in close
proximity to someone else is the way they take on your behaviour traits, bad
as well as good, and unfortunately Frog is now just as prone to the above
annoying habit as me – if not worse (but he wouldn’t agree there). Particularly
since I gave him for Christmas a few years ago She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook
which he has read from cover to cover many times.
As an example, here is the book’s entry for ‘literally’:
Distinguishes the literal from the figurative meanings of a phrase, but
is now used at random as an intensifier or a synonym for ‘really’, by those
with tin ears.
Here are some of the words and phrases currently infuriating
Frog and me (and which neither of us dares point out to the other for fear of a
Iconic Used for
everything, with no thought to its original meaning
mealy-mouthed way of saying ‘problem’
Source (as a
verb) Buy? Find?
Do you mean ‘bought in the corner shop’ or do you mean ‘locally produced’ or even simply ‘local’?
Gift (as a verb) What
on earth is wrong with good old-fashioned ‘give’?
Isn’t all murder brutal? Might it be better to be specific eg ‘shot’, ‘strangled’?
Change is change. If you’re looking for emphasis, use a stronger word eg ‘transformed’,
Sorry about all that. It's very naughty of me and I know my own writing is far from perfect and we're probably just a couple of old fogeys, but I do feel better having got it
off my chest. Feel free to add some of your own bêtes noires.