Cliches, Irritating Phrases, and Inflated Claims

By | November 18, 2008

At the end of the day, I personally, at this moment in time and with all due respect, want to say something fairly unique. Although it’s absolutely a nightmare to even try, but certainly not rocket science . . . let’s face it, I shouldn’t of started this literary blog for good writing advice, available 24/7, unless I was up to the task!

There! I’ve now officially used all of the “Top 10 Most Irritating Expressions” in the English language, per researchers at the University of Oxford.

For the record, here are the ten phrases that most irritate the good folks of Oxford:

1.  At the end of the day
2.  Fairly unique
3.  I personally
4.  At this moment in time
5.  With all due respect
6.  Absolutely
7.  It’s a nightmare
8.  Shouldn’t of
9.   24/7
10.  It’s not rocket science

In an Underwire (Wired Blog Network) blog post by John Scott Lewinski, he says the list is from a new book, Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare, by Jeremy Butterfield, a British lexicographer, looking at “the world’s largest language databank, the Oxford Corpus, which contains more than two billion words – to determine for the first time definitively how the English language is used.”

If you follow that Damp Squid link, the Oxford University Press claims in its online catalog [emphasis mine]:

This entertaining book has the up-to-date and authoritative answers to ALL the key questions about our language. Butterfield takes a thorough look at the English language and exposes its peculiarities and penchants, its development and difficulties, revealing EXACTLY how it operates. We learn, for instance, that we use language in chunks of words – as one linguist put it, “we know words by the company that they keep.” For instance, the word quintessentially is joined half the time with a nationality – something is “quintessentially American” or “quintessentially British.”

Wow! Did they really say “authoritative answers to all the key questions about our language”? And “revealing exactly how it operates“?

And what do you mean, “our language,” Kimosabe?

Must be quintessentially British to make such claims, don’t'cha think?

And how would you describe something that is closer to being unique than to being a very common thing or cliché? “Fairly unique” is the kind of thing we say here in the quintessentially American Midwest, where we tend to think some qualification is good. (And how do you prove that something is unique? I guess if you have “the world’s largest language databank” . . . ?)

So, is this List of Irritating Expressions unique? Or fairly unique?

Let’s face it, it’s not rocket science. Language is language. The test is what works.

And irritation is in the eye of the beholder.

2 thoughts on “Cliches, Irritating Phrases, and Inflated Claims

  1. davidfarney

    VERY impressive first paragraph! I should of (hahaha) known something was going on . . .

    Reply
  2. James Alagappan

    Fantastic start to the article! Just fantastic. I like your blog very much and found it through The Mutt (themutt.wordpress.com) which links to your blog. It seems there are more blogs worth reading than I realized. Your first paragraph is excellent.

    Reply

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