It’s often said that the strength of the English Language is its extraordinary ability to absorb, evolve and invent. All fine and dandy. Otherwise we’d still be grunting like Beowulf. But being old and increasingly resistant to change, there are some modern verbal twists that make me want to scream – literally.
Here are a few of my least favourite things.
I like ‘like’. It’s a likeable little word with an ancient pedigree – Old Norse – handy for many a sentence. Handy that is except when it’s repeated ad nauseum by some reality TV nobody in terracotta tan and Brazilian.
“She was like, ‘you aren’t using that word correctly’, and I was like, ‘yes I am’. That’s, like, so unfair.”
No it’s not, like, so unfair. It just makes you sound, like, a bit thick.
Can I get…
Strictly speaking, it should be “may I have…” or “I’d like…” but I’m not that much of a purist. I’m okay with “can I have…” even though it’s actually a question not a request, but “can I get…”? No, no, no, it’s just ugly.
These days everything is awesome. No it’s not. The Niagara Falls are awesome. The annual migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti is awesome. A meal at Nandos is just chicken.
So, it seems anyone explaining something or telling a story – from learnéd professors on the Ten O’Clock News to the trendy young things on Graham Norton’s big red chair – begin with ‘so’. So, literally everyone’s at it. So, even Mr Norton’s TV company is called ‘So Television’.
And when asked how they feel about something, the response invariably starts with…
You know what?
No, I don’t. That’s why I’m asking, stupid.
Or they’ll say…
I can’t lie.
Which, of course, is a lie.
And then there’s ‘myself’, ‘ourselves’ and ‘yourself’. Why have people suddenly started speaking like a copper trying to talk posh in the witness box? What the hell is wrong with ‘me’, ‘us’ and ‘you’?
A phrase used to describe the variable quality of services across the realm, used over and over again by lazy journalists. Frankly, I’m only interested in the actual postcode lottery and only then if I’ve won the twenty-five grand.
You smashed it/you nailed it/you made it your own/you blew the roof off.
The mindless verdicts delivered by talentless talent show judges to some wannabee who’s just butchered a Whitney Houston classic. Someone really should tell the tele-fodder that their pop career will be shorter than the life cycle of a fruit fly and that the only one really nailing it is Simon Cowell.
Do you want a bag at all? Do you have a Nectar card at all? Do you want a receipt at all?
What’s the ‘at all’ about? All of what? Yes, of course I want a bloody receipt – all of it. How else can I bring something back?
Where once we used to challenge, expose, question, examine and probe, now we ‘call out’. Even Maybot (our current prime minister who may not be in Number 10 by the time this nonsense goes out) says it. And her a grammar school girl too. I blame Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the neanderthals who’ve been ‘called out’ with their knickers down.
I’ll give it 250%
Er, no you won’t. You literally can’t.
In politics, optics trump metrics
I think I first heard this techno-babble on the BBC’s Newsnight. Apparently it translates as ‘belief overcomes fact’. Nothing new there – religion has been playing that trick ever since Adam and Eve uttered the words ‘where do we come from?’ In my day, metrics were all about metres and litres and an optic was a device for measuring the hard stuff in a pub. Can I get, like, a double?
And last, my most disliked…
So, everyone’s gone literally crazy. It’s literally this and literally that.
“I literally jumped out of my skin.”
No you didn’t otherwise you’d be in the morgue with your vital organs hanging out – literally.
So, I’m, like, calling out this dreary repetition and misuse of, like, certain words which are, like, literally sending me, like, bonkers.
“Can I get, like, a crappafrappaccino?”
I don’t know, can you?
Here endeth the lesson from a fully paid-up member of the grumpy old farts club.