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Author Topic: Overused words and phrases  (Read 3787 times)
AndyC
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« Reply #60 on: October 16, 2010, 01:38:16 PM »

When people say, "Taco Hell" instead of Taco Bell.

Okay, people, maybe that joke was funny the first 1,420,245 times it was done, but it's getting old, can we just drop it?

That along with calling the guy M, Night Shamalyadingdong.  HAHA.  Yes, I know, his movies have sucked of late, but it's been several years now and we're STILL calling him that?  (sighs)


I don't mind an irreverent nickname if it is used casually and unconsciously. In Canada, we have a major hardware chain called Canadian Tire. All my life, it's been "Crappy Tire." That might have once been a clever statement on the quality of the merchandise there in the old days, but nobody thinks much about it now. When I was in high school, we used to get our hamburgers at "McPukes" without a hint of "wink wink, nudge nudge" in our use of the name.

On the other hand, I hate it when people use irreverent nicknames and other worn-out wordplay in a conscious attempt to sound clever, as if they're telling a joke you haven't heard a hundred times before. That and when people put a little too much contempt into the nickname, as if "Taco Hell" is some kind of indictment.

I think a nickname of any kind only works when people accept it as normal and use it as if it were the proper name. They all start out as a joke or a bit of wordplay, but something special happens. If after a couple of years you still only ever hear the name used as a deliberate joke, it's not a good nickname and people should refrain from using it or risk sounding stupid.
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AndyC
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« Reply #61 on: October 16, 2010, 02:01:43 PM »

You've mentioned the "surgery" thing before, Andy, but honestly I have no idea what you're talking about.  I've heard "surgery" used as a synonym for "operation" all my life, and every dictionary I've consulted considers it proper usage.  I wonder if this doesn't come down to an American/Canadian usage difference: perhaps in Canadian English it was rare to use surgery in this way until recently.  If I had an Oxford English Dictionary I'd look it up. 

It just doesn't sound correct to me. Whether or not that usage is accepted for that specific word, it just doesn't follow the general rules of the English language as I understand them. I suppose it's not without precident, as "robbery" is used in much the same way. On the other hand, you wouldn't describe someone who is frequently sweet-talked as "receiving many flatteries." Flattery is the type of statement, not the statement itself. In proper usage, as I understand it, surgery is the type of procedure, not the procedure itself.

Serious question, in case you know: what does the -ery suffix mean anyway?  We have "machinery," "battery," and "bakery," along with "robbery," "surgery," and "flattery."  The only constant I notice is they're all nouns.  I guess that, long ago, "surgery" may have referred to activities of surgeons, "bakery" to activities of bakers, "robbery" to activities of robbers, and so on, but obviously the meanings have shifted over the centuries.     

Well, a surgery has also been used to describe the place where surgery happens - the operating room. That would be consistent with a bakery.

It's surprisingly hard to find a simple definition of the suffix. Going by usage, my understanding is that it puts things in a general category. You can lump an assortment of devices together under the general term "machinery." Getting kicked, punched, beaten, bludgeoned, etc. can be generalized as "battery." Stealing anything with any kind of physical threat can be called "robbery." Any kind of compliment or other sweet talk falls under the heading of "flattery." "Surgery" is a category that encompasses all kinds of medicine that involve cutting into some part of the body.

Machinery is a great example. You can have a piece of machinery, or a machine, but people don't say "a machinery." Battery is another one. You generally don't hear about "a battery" referring to an instance of battery.

Of course, nothing is completely consistent with English, but I've drawn my line in the sand with surgery. I won't accept that one.
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« Reply #62 on: October 16, 2010, 04:52:55 PM »


Of course, nothing is completely consistent with English, but I've drawn my line in the sand with surgery. I won't accept that one.

But dictionaries do, so your objection is beginning to look like crankery.   Wink  I kid!
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AndyC
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« Reply #63 on: October 17, 2010, 06:52:33 AM »


Of course, nothing is completely consistent with English, but I've drawn my line in the sand with surgery. I won't accept that one.

But dictionaries do, so your objection is beginning to look like crankery.   Wink  I kid!

Dictionaries make ad hoc exceptions for this word and that word if enough people use them a certain way. Me, I like to follow the broader rules, at least when it comes to changing the usage of a word. I'm a little more fussy than usual with surgery, because that use sounds gratingly wrong to me from a grammatical perspective, and I initially heard it misused that way by people trying to sound smart, at least most of the time. Besides, there are better alternatives.

Dictionaries have always been somewhat arbitrary, depending on which one you read. I'm reminded of Noah Webster taking it upon himself to dumb down a good portion of the language for reasons as much political as practical.

As an editor, I also used to ignore the Canadian Press style book, except for proper names and areas of ambiguity. CP style and good grammar were not always the same thing.
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Flick James
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« Reply #64 on: October 18, 2010, 10:04:56 AM »


Of course, nothing is completely consistent with English, but I've drawn my line in the sand with surgery. I won't accept that one.

But dictionaries do, so your objection is beginning to look like crankery.   Wink  I kid!

Dictionaries make ad hoc exceptions for this word and that word if enough people use them a certain way. Me, I like to follow the broader rules, at least when it comes to changing the usage of a word. I'm a little more fussy than usual with surgery, because that use sounds gratingly wrong to me from a grammatical perspective, and I initially heard it misused that way by people trying to sound smart, at least most of the time. Besides, there are better alternatives.

Dictionaries have always been somewhat arbitrary, depending on which one you read. I'm reminded of Noah Webster taking it upon himself to dumb down a good portion of the language for reasons as much political as practical.

As an editor, I also used to ignore the Canadian Press style book, except for proper names and areas of ambiguity. CP style and good grammar were not always the same thing.

Andy. Do you have enough whimsy in your life?
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AndyC
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« Reply #65 on: October 18, 2010, 04:02:06 PM »

Quote
Andy. Do you have enough whimsy in your life?

Plenty of whimsy. In fact, when I wasn't writing news, I used a much looser, more conversational style for editorials, entertainment, sports, etc. As an editor, I was much more flexible than editors I'd worked under. There are times when rigid, by-the-book English isn't really appropriate.

But having written and edited for a living for many years, I'm always very conscious of my use of language, and that of other people. I'm just trained to think that way. I tend to look at misuse of the English language the same way a tradesman would look at a friend's home reno that isn't entirely up to code. Even if it's not serious enough to mention, it's going to jump out at you every time you see it.

When it comes to language, it's doubly bothersome, because if enough people fail to follow the rules, the rules just change. The building code isn't going to do that.

And language is one of those areas where knowledge is not particularly recognized or respected, because everybody uses language every day. I think most people would equate mastery of the English language with a big vocabulary and an interesting style, without considering all of the nuts and bolts of grammar. I think that leads people to superficially imitate writers or speakers they admire, which is how we get so many catchphrases, buzzwords, and misused words. It's like the kid who picks up a guitar and tries to play like his rock idols, without considering the technical foundation that underlies the art. The difference is, that kid isn't likely to produce anything close to music without learning how it works, while the guy who does it with language can often get away with it.

"Surgery" as in "a surgery" bugs me not so much because I'm uptight about sloppy language, but because I see that usage rooted in other people being uptight about the words they use, and not getting the technical parts right. It's like creative spellings of names that ignore the way letter combinations are normally pronounced.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2010, 04:07:57 PM by AndyC » Logged

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Flick James
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« Reply #66 on: October 18, 2010, 04:37:24 PM »

I was just wondering if you had enough whimsy.

Whimsy is a wonderful word that, not only do people not use it enough, they also don't have enough of the stuff in their lives. I may be a misanthrope, but I'm a misanthrope with lot's of whimsy in my life.
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3mnkids
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« Reply #67 on: October 18, 2010, 04:42:21 PM »


But having written and edited for a living for many years, I'm always very conscious of my use of language, and that of other people.


I bet some of my post make you want to scream.   TeddyR 
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« Reply #68 on: October 18, 2010, 04:50:58 PM »


But having written and edited for a living for many years, I'm always very conscious of my use of language, and that of other people.


I bet some of my post make you want to scream.   TeddyR 

That should be "posts."  TongueOut
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« Reply #69 on: October 21, 2010, 09:12:41 AM »

One strike against me and I swear I subconsciously do this without even thinking.   The word "basically".  One time I did a speech and recorded myself.  I said "basically" about once every sentence.  I hate the word and it usually has no context in what I'm saying but I just can't help using it.  Its like a comfort word.   Bluesad

YES !

A thousand times, YES!

Its the stangest thing, it's like you didn't know that you put the word in your sentance. Its like it sneaked in when you weren't looking!

Its a like stop-gap word for when you feel you should say more.
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AndyC
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« Reply #70 on: December 07, 2010, 09:57:39 AM »

I had a managing editor who used to always talk about "team" as some kind of a philosophy or idea or something. Not teamwork. Not being a team, or working as a team, team spirit, a team philosophy or "we are a team." It was just "team" as in "We believe in team." I wanted to smack him upside the head every time he said something like that, doubly so because his idea of a team was everybody working unpaid overtime and putting pressure on anybody who worked within the terms of their contract (i.e. me). Real nice when the "team" lecture comes as a result of expecting your employer to observe labour laws.

Just an update. I found out through the grapevine that they recently fired that guy. Kind of surprising. By the time I left, a couple of years ago, he was overseeing several papers over a large area. The story I heard was that he'd just made too many bad decisions in the eyes of his superiors, and one of the decisions they were p**sed off about was firing me. Amazing how good it felt to hear that.
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Flick James
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« Reply #71 on: December 07, 2010, 10:40:08 AM »

I had a managing editor who used to always talk about "team" as some kind of a philosophy or idea or something. Not teamwork. Not being a team, or working as a team, team spirit, a team philosophy or "we are a team." It was just "team" as in "We believe in team." I wanted to smack him upside the head every time he said something like that, doubly so because his idea of a team was everybody working unpaid overtime and putting pressure on anybody who worked within the terms of their contract (i.e. me). Real nice when the "team" lecture comes as a result of expecting your employer to observe labour laws.

Just an update. I found out through the grapevine that they recently fired that guy. Kind of surprising. By the time I left, a couple of years ago, he was overseeing several papers over a large area. The story I heard was that he'd just made too many bad decisions in the eyes of his superiors, and one of the decisions they were p**sed off about was firing me. Amazing how good it felt to hear that.

That reminds me. I love when corporations lay off a bunch of people and call it "corporate restructuring."
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AndyC
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« Reply #72 on: December 07, 2010, 10:58:42 AM »

I had a managing editor who used to always talk about "team" as some kind of a philosophy or idea or something. Not teamwork. Not being a team, or working as a team, team spirit, a team philosophy or "we are a team." It was just "team" as in "We believe in team." I wanted to smack him upside the head every time he said something like that, doubly so because his idea of a team was everybody working unpaid overtime and putting pressure on anybody who worked within the terms of their contract (i.e. me). Real nice when the "team" lecture comes as a result of expecting your employer to observe labour laws.

Just an update. I found out through the grapevine that they recently fired that guy. Kind of surprising. By the time I left, a couple of years ago, he was overseeing several papers over a large area. The story I heard was that he'd just made too many bad decisions in the eyes of his superiors, and one of the decisions they were p**sed off about was firing me. Amazing how good it felt to hear that.

That reminds me. I love when corporations lay off a bunch of people and call it "corporate restructuring."

While I was technically laid off, and they were cutting staff, I was definitely fired. He just did it in a way that wouldn't get the company immediately sued, since it would have been totally against the terms of my contract, labour laws and company policy. But I always maintained that he hired somebody with experience, skills, ambition and initiative, kept me on too short a leash to benefit from it, and blamed me for not being everything he expected. The guy was a fool who constantly blew opportunities, half-developed good ideas before abandoning them, and spent too much time reacting and not enough acting. That and he was a dick.
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Flick James
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« Reply #73 on: December 07, 2010, 11:53:16 AM »

I had a managing editor who used to always talk about "team" as some kind of a philosophy or idea or something. Not teamwork. Not being a team, or working as a team, team spirit, a team philosophy or "we are a team." It was just "team" as in "We believe in team." I wanted to smack him upside the head every time he said something like that, doubly so because his idea of a team was everybody working unpaid overtime and putting pressure on anybody who worked within the terms of their contract (i.e. me). Real nice when the "team" lecture comes as a result of expecting your employer to observe labour laws.

Just an update. I found out through the grapevine that they recently fired that guy. Kind of surprising. By the time I left, a couple of years ago, he was overseeing several papers over a large area. The story I heard was that he'd just made too many bad decisions in the eyes of his superiors, and one of the decisions they were p**sed off about was firing me. Amazing how good it felt to hear that.

That reminds me. I love when corporations lay off a bunch of people and call it "corporate restructuring."

While I was technically laid off, and they were cutting staff, I was definitely fired. He just did it in a way that wouldn't get the company immediately sued, since it would have been totally against the terms of my contract, labour laws and company policy. But I always maintained that he hired somebody with experience, skills, ambition and initiative, kept me on too short a leash to benefit from it, and blamed me for not being everything he expected. The guy was a fool who constantly blew opportunities, half-developed good ideas before abandoning them, and spent too much time reacting and not enough acting. That and he was a dick.

Sounds like he was one of those guys who are good at stetching out a job that he is either unqualified for or just terrible at. I've know a few myself. Looks like he just ran out of bulls**t.
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Chainsaw midget
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« Reply #74 on: December 08, 2010, 01:01:57 PM »

Quoted for Truth

It annoys the hell outta me when I see posts where somebody has just quoted another person's statement, stuck "quoted for truth" on it, and posted it.  You're not adding anything to the conversation so why even bother?



Also, anybody that quotes this and adds quoted for truth on it is getting negative karma.   Hatred
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