Maybe we are just overly sensitive after being confined for almost a year and facing the reality that vaccines for oldies aren’t a ticket to the old normal. But, since we have spent hours and hours at home, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to more reporters, commentators, panelists, talking heads, pundits, and others than we ever imagined. Confession: we often find their word usage both irritating and annoying.
Does everything need to be dramatized, even weather? It’s going to rain, or we might get two inches of snow. Calm down. Cut the emotion. We’ll live through it. And EVERYTHING is “Breaking News.” And the same news is often hailed as breaking news hours later. How long can breaking news “break?”
Most annoying; however, are the many overused and annoying words, phrases, and expressions that really make us cringe. “You know” is one of the top contenders. No, we don’t know. That’s why we are tuning in. “Listen” is another. We’re watching you on television; we are listening. “If I may” appears to be an attempt to be polite but comes off smug. Of course, you may. The host asked you a question! Use of “kind of, sort of” tells us nothing. Many talking heads end their sentences saying “right?”—attempting to encourage agreement from listeners. Heh…we’re not that easy.
And, then there are the guests who begin their responses with “in my humble opinion?” Ironically, they are not usually humble. “To be honest” also gets to us. Why wouldn’t you be honest? Are you often dishonest? If you hear a guest say “with all due respect” get ready for a fight. Someone is about to be disrespected. Speaking of fights, “let me play devil’s advocate” is a clear sign the guest is about to say something at odds with another panelist or the host.
We thought we were alone in advocating for banishing some words and phrases. No, we have an ally! It’s the Banished Words List Committee at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University. The goal is to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical, and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.” LSSU chooses 10 words or phrases annually based on submissions from people around the world.
We were excited until we read the 10 choices from 2020. Number one was COVID-19. Huh? Sure, we’re all tired of hearing, reading, and talking about the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can just banish the name of the virus. Also listed were words and terms related to the pandemic. The committee advocates banishing expressions like “we’re all in this together.” We agree that the overused phrase “in these uncertain times” should be dumped. It also isn’t a big fan of the term “in an abundance of caution.” Heck, we’ll be tempted to throw caution to the wind after we get vaccinated.
The committee pointed out that “pivot” can go when describing how everyone must adapt to COVID-19, making the point that basketball players pivot. We seemed to have missed this one, but we are not sports savvy. It has already banished the word “unprecedented” but the word made the LSSU list again last year because of continued misuse in describing events that do have precedent. Like, well, COVID-19. Lastly, we are wondering why “flatten the curve” didn’t make the top 10. It’s not only overused, it’s an oxymoron.
Oh, speaking of overworked, how many times have we heard a guest say: “That is a great question; so glad you asked.” Is that a euphemism for…gee…will you have me back on your show again soon??
So our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Turn off the screen and take out your ear buds. Sorry to make your television watching more cringe worthy. But, venting is good for the soul. Do it! We bet you have your own list of words and phrases you never want to hear again! So, start your 2021 list now! Entertain us by putting them in the comments section, and we will all try to comply! Kind of/sort of.