Annoying phrases…

newspapersSomeone in a recent Tweet opened with ‘There is no question that..’ which immediately irritated me as it was on an issue where there clearly was a question.  It reminded me of phrases that annoy me.   Readers may well add others.  (I was going to write ‘No doubt readers will add others’, but as I cannot be sure they will the comment would not be strictly accurate.)   Here are some of those that annoy me intensely:

Everybody does it.

This is the one that probably annoys me more than any other.  It is frequently used in an attempt to deny personal responsibility: ‘I did it, but then everybody else does it, therefore it’s acceptable or at least not as bad as if I was the sole culprit’.  Recently, a football team owner or manager was accused of making racist remarks, including in reference to Chinese people, and sought to offset the guilt by saying of the particular word ‘Everyone at some time has used it.  Anyone who says they haven’t is a liar’.   I have never used it and I don’t appreciate being called a liar.  My views on the particular individual are probably not printable.

Everyone’s talking about it.

This is variously used by advertisers: ‘the film everyone is talking about’.  The phrase is arguably less annoying in that it is clearly an exaggeration and not meant to be taken literally.   Nonetheless, when I hear or read it, I think ‘I’ve never heard of it and have not spoken about it to anyone, so everyone isn’t talking about it’.  However, probably not something to take up with the Advertising Standards Authority.

As a matter of fact….

This appears to be used by people who aren’t relying on fact, but rather assertion and who may not be on the most solid of grounds.

There is no question….

This likewise is variously used by people in situations where there is some element of doubt.  It appears to be used to bolster opinion rather than establish fact.

I am also not too keen on the insertion of superfluous words (‘I myself believe’ for ‘I believe’) – a message on the screen in the Lords recently announced that a debate was ‘now imminent’ (as opposed to being ‘later imminent’?) – but that is probably enough for now.  I may add others as I encounter them.  Readers are welcome to add their own entries.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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19 Responses to Annoying phrases…

  1. Mark Shephard says:

    At the end of the day…it is the end of the day?

  2. Mark Shephard says:

    Why can’t you do what your constituents want? (which ones?)

  3. Mark Shephard says:

    Jargon-laden phrases…

    ‘At the end of the day’, in order to ‘live the values’ we need to ‘drill down’ to a ‘pioneering level’ of ‘granularity’, and ‘go forward’ from the ‘get-go’. I think we need to ‘incentivise’ and ‘leverage’ ‘idea showers’ that ‘touch base’, ‘cascade’ and ‘loop back’ in a ‘holistic’, ‘cradle-to-grave’, processing of ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities’. ‘Getting all our ducks in a row’ and ‘pre-preparation’ and ‘forward planning’ and ‘blue-skies thinking’ from a ‘high altitude view’ are needed if we are to ‘capitalise’ on the ‘active realisation’ of ‘low hanging fruit’ that avoids ‘negative territory’ and ‘wrong-siding’ of the ‘quintessential demographic’.

  4. Tony Sands says:

    ‘Personally …..!!!’ I find grammatical errors even more irritatating e.g. I was stood used instead of I was standing. As a younger man I always found,”Where are you located?” a rather irritating question but nowadays I seldom meet anyone new!!! This is even worse!

  5. D F Rostron says:

    “Re-double our efforts” implying they didn’t try fully the first time.

    “They gave 110%” which I always feel they should fail the drugs test, or perhaps it’s 110% on what they usually give which is below the 100% they could give.

  6. Dean B says:

    I find annoyance usually is a choice, you can choose not to let others irritate you. Having said that, the phrase “I genuinely believe” always grates with me. I am always suspicious of why they have to include the “genuinely”.

  7. Lord Norton says:

    I, personally, genuinely believe that we should re-double our efforts. We should, as a matter of fact, get there in the fullness of time.

    • Tony Sands says:

      From the bottom of my heart and in all honesty I’m 100 per cent behind you on this pacific criteria. ( the correct use of specific and criterion should have ( of!!) been included in the national curriculum.

  8. tpbale says:

    Academics only (or perhaps just especially): beginning a question you’re asking in Q&A with ‘It seems to me….’ Agggghhhh!

  9. maude elwes says:

    I told you so.

    It’s better late than never

    Just in case

    However, far more irritating is the use of euphemisms to cover up or hide the deviousness of an underlying agenda on an important issue, such as, racist, instead of, dislike of foreigners. Feminism for enforcement of masculine traits on women and so on. Politically correct verbiage is said to be the basis of socialist party engineering in order to control a populations thoughts, However, our so called ‘Conservatives’ have adopted with glee this power freakishness along with the subsequent society changes created.. I wonder how that fits in with their love of tradition and basic promise of upholding cultural conditions, institutions, etc..

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conservative

  10. Croft says:

    “As a matter of fact….
    This appears to be used by people who aren’t relying on fact, but rather assertion and who may not be on the most solid of grounds.”

    I have some memory that the PCC did in fact rule on exactly that point – thought in favour of being able to use it in that way.

    I’d add to the ‘banned’ list practically every political slogan.

    The Tory ‘Long term economic plan’ and its Labour partner ‘(topic of the day) crisis’. I could also add as my most disliked political phrase ‘my constituents tell me’ followed by some self serving twaddle

  11. tizres says:

    1. Artisan (or worse, artisanal) anything; the zenith/nadir: http://www.artisanalpencilsharpening.com/about.html
    2. Yum
    3. Pan-fried
    4. Ordinary people
    5. I am not making this up
    6. Magenta
    7. So,…

  12. D F Rostron says:

    “I must be totally honest…..” implying they are not usually honest.

    My three all time favorites are “New”, “improved” and worst of all “New improved”, which I regard as worse but more expensive.

  13. Tony Sands says:

    In my humble opinion …. (Probably not much used in the Westminster village!)
    To be fair … (Always superfluous and really irritating)

  14. D F Rostron says:

    “With due respect…….” which is usually anything but that.

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