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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Least Favorite Language

We all have our favorite list of words and phrases we would love to blow up -- just pulverize them and dust them away forever -- never again to appear in such abundant, antagonizing, and monotonous usage. Of course, most disagree on their personal choices of annoying trite and overused expressions. We're talking about words that flow so freely from so many without unique thought or creative expression. These words simply get on our nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism, a cliche' – and the same seems to happen with some language. Some of the despised words and word combinations are basically meaningless, some senselessly overused, and some just parroted. Still others are genuine English usage errors.

The sources of these words and phrases range from popular slang to media content. Unwittingly, many people think that using popular buzzwords elevates their linguistic status; thus, they pepper their conversations and written communications with them. Others are simply unaware of the disturbing quality of the language.

The Marist Poll

Based on a poll released by the Marist Institute, Clemente Lisi of the New York Post (October 7, 2009) reported, "Nearly 50 percent of Americans said "whatever" was the most annoying word or phrase they hear on a daily basis.

Michael Hill in Discovery News (October 8, 2009) said that "Whatever" -- pronounced "WHAT'-ehv-errr" when exasperated -- is an expression with staying power. The word was immortalized as such in song by Nirvana ("oh well, whatever, nevermind") in 1991 and popularized by the Valley girls in Clueless later that decade. It remains commonly used, often by younger people.

The word can be an all-purpose argument-ender or a signal of apathy. Evidently very annoying, "whatever" was  found to be consistently disliked by Americans regardless of their race, gender, age, income or where they live.

For some reason, those in the Midwest disliked the word "whatever" more than any other region in the country with 55 percent saying they dislike the term. By comparison, 35 percent of those living in the Northeast, which includes New York, said "whatever” ticked them off the most, while 32 percent of those in the Northeast disliked "you know.”

"You know," is an expression reportedly used commonly by Caroline Kenney during interviews. It was found by the poll to be most grating by a total of 25 percent. And, 11 percent said they can't stand the phrase "It is what it is." The poll also found that 7 percent said they dislike the word "anyway,” while a small two percent claimed that they could do without hearing “at the end of the day” used in daily conversation.

Oxford Gets Annoyed

Researchers at Oxford University (November 7th, 2008) have compiled a list of the ten most annoying phrases in the English language. The phrases were monitored via a database called the Oxford University Corpus which keeps track of words being misused within books, magazines, the internet and the media. (

The top ten are:

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."

 Here's the Frisky

Wendy Atterberry, reporter for (September 2, 2009), printed her own list of the "25 Words and Phrases To Retire." Wendy has often asked her fellow post workers,“Can we retire that word yet?” Wendy reports she has been largely unsuccessful in her pleas, but she hopes that maybe if we all work together, we can limit their appearance in everyday speech.

1. Cougar
2. Staycation
3. Web 2.0 (Does anyone even know what this means anymore?)
4. “I just threw up a little in my mouth.”
5. Getting anything “on,” like “getting my drink on.”
6. All text-inspired abbreviations like: OMG, TMI, WTF, LMAO, ZOMG
7. Totes
8. Obvi.
10. Recessionista
11. “That’s what she said.”
12. Beyotch
13. Date Night
14. Bromance
15. Hot mess / hot tranny mess
16. Adding the suffix -tastic to anything, like bitch-tastic
17. Vlogging (We’re not even sure what this is ... but Lloyd’s doing it on “Entourage.”)
18. “That’s hot!”
19. Metrosexual
20. “True dat!”
21. Hella
22. Peen
23. Girl Crush
24. New Black
25. Wuzzup (Seriously, this word should be past retirement and already resting peacefully in the grave!)

My List

And, just for some personal input, I find these words to be disturbing and overused:

1. "dude"
2. "Awesome!"
3. "sucks"
4. "thingy"
5. "Right on!"
6. "numero uno"
7. "ya know"
8. "bottom line"
9. "simply precious"
10. "by the by"
11. "grab a bite"
12. "Fantabulous! or "Transplendant!"
13. "You Got That One Right."
14. "desperate search"
15. "stud" or "hotty"
16. "weiner dog"
17. "try again"
18. "co-conspirators"
19. "Bless his/her heart."
20. "That's just me."
21. "just my two cents"
22. "not so much"
23. "always there for me"
24. "don't mean to be rude"
25. "That one makes me crazy."
26. "You know what I'm saying."
27. "working hard or hardly working"
28. "There were no losers today."
29. Any word with "ish" behind it   "Can we meet at noonish?"
30. "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt"

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