Thursday, October 08, 2009

Annoying Words (Default Title for Every G:TB Post)

As you may have read, there's a new Marist Poll whose results are making news: The Most Annoying Word in Conversation. (Phrases count, too.) We at G:TB are being helpful, not merely reporting the results. Read on.

According to Yahoo! News:

So, you know, it is what it is, but Americans are totally annoyed by the use of "whatever" in conversations. The popular slacker term of indifference was found "most annoying in conversation" by 47 percent of Americans surveyed in a Marist College poll released Wednesday. "Whatever" easily beat out "you know," which especially grated a quarter of respondents. The other annoying contenders were "anyway" (at 7 percent), "it is what it is" (11 percent) and "at the end of the day" (2 percent).

I contend that, in these difficult economic times, people are just being more economical with their words. Perhaps you shouldn't be so annoyed. After all, if these morons used more words to express the same sentiments, wouldn't that be more annoying?

Here's a handy guide to what people actually mean when they use these expressions (and more). Print it and keep it on your person. You'll hear these quips everywhere from the office to NFL telecasts. And they may be less grating if you know exactly what they're intended to mean:

When they say: "Whatever."

They simply mean:
"The succinct point you just made contradicts and, frankly, disproves what I have been bitching about for 15 minutes. I am equipped with neither the requisite knowledge on this topic nor the eloquence to articulate any sort of intelligent counter-point. Can we talk about something else?"

(although there's a chance they mean)
"I engaged in this conversation assuming you had at least the intellect of a gibbon; I was mistaken. Can we talk about something else?"

When they say: "It is what it is"

They simply mean:
"This situation is unfortunate and inescapable, and I would like to reflect poignantly on the finer points of the dilemma . . . but I am wholly unwilling and unprepared to do so. It'd be best that I offer a trite, pseudo-philosophical, and utterly meaningless expression here in lieu of taking some more time and effort to tell you anything of merit. This way we can both avoid actually dealing with the problem."

When they say: "you know"

They simply mean:
"I don't have a very good grasp on what exactly it is I am trying to convey to you here. I just need more time to collect my thoughts. Rather than retire to an adjacent room, jot down my half-witted opinions, and present something vaguely cohesive so as to avoid wasting your time, I will instead intersperse this expression into my sentences like table salt into my pommes frites. It's marginally better than saying "um" or "uh" or offering pregnant pauses. Plus, I desperately need the self-validation of thinking you and I are of like minds, you know?"

When they say: "at the end of the day"

They simply mean:
"I'm a bit of a blowhard. I am acutely aware that I have a keen sense of perspective. I get the big picture, and I'm pretty sure you do not. Let me grant you a slice of my vantage point. You're welcome."

When they say: "let's think outside the box"

They simply mean:
"I am completely incapable of thinking outside the box. I latch onto expressions made popular 3-5 years ago (like this very one) and ride them into the ground like a 1984 Honda Civic. Enjoy."

When they say: "synergy"

They simply mean:
"I'd just say 'cooperation,' but cooperation sounds Sesame Street and 'synergy' sounds Wall Street Journal. Don't I sound smart? Please say yes."

When they say: "low-hanging fruit"

They simply mean:
"I could say 'easily achievable target,' but wouldn't we rather I went with an overused expression that makes us all think of testicles and baggy scrotum? Right?"

When they say: "I'm just being honest"

They simply mean:
"I'm something of a cocksucker. I lack the tiniest amount of tact and consideration to soften the blow of my insult, so I'm going to fall back on the virtue of honesty . . . when really, being less offensive in any way, even a mildy inaccurate one, would have been ten times more virtuous. I'd like to play 'honesty' as a Get Out of Being a Total Dick card . . . does that work for anyone here?"

We've already waxed haughty on "literally" and "I could care less" in this space. They both are still misused horribly and nearly warrant revisiting, but that wouldn't be an economical use of my words. In the meantime, the English language still presents a bit of a problem for many, many of its users, but . . . you know, it is what it is.


zoltan said...

Not for nothing. No offense, but. Like.

"Low-hanging fruit" always makes me think of the homely drunk girls hanging out in the Unit M pit at 2 am at the end of a party. Kind of like fallen apples. You don't necessarily want fruit that hangs low.

mayhugh said...

How about "Long pole in the tent"?

I also hate the use of irregardless.

Marlin said...

Z - To a starving man a fallen apple looks like ambrosia.

zoltan said...

Yon Marlin has a lean and hungry look.

Geoff said...

Low hanging fruit always makes me think of my testicles.

There was a guy in my office who started every sentence with the phrase "from my vantage point." He also said "right church, wrong pew" often. He was recently fired. These two things were not unrelated.

zoltan said...

To the extent that. With regard to. Vis a vis.

I deal with literary tics all day long.

Marlin said...

Testicles always makes me think of Monique from "Better off Dead", which makes me think of the asian guys impersonating Howard Cosell, who, as we all know, was a Pi Lam, which brings us back full circle to the homely drunk low hanging fruit in Unit M.

The synergy is amazing.

Michael said...

This is definitely my favorite post here in the last year. Well played, Whit.

"It is what it is" really irks me. I also used to hear a lot of "Net Net Net" at my old company. That also drives me nuts. It's someone's way of saying "in my world of fancy math and accounting, I like to imagine that I can somehow make this idea sound profitable by adding mulitple elements of made-up synergies and hypothetical values". Of course, my old company is now bankrupt. I did the math and it bummed me out.

TR said...

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Mark said...

Missouri is melting the fuck down right now. Thanks for the suddenly interesting game fellas.

Dan said...

with all due respect always gets me, because what usually follows is anything but and is more often than not (which is another) directed at someone not very well liked