What’s that noise?

Obviously language develops. And no-one in their right mind wants to get in the way of progress. But it doesn’t stop you being annoyed. Not in a ‘Lynne Truss gets annoyed at market traders (or trader’s, tee hee)’ style. More in a stop making sense style. So, just for readers of the Emu, my top 10 list of irritating things that people say.

1. Any advance on 100%. Very popular with footballers, who are constantly ‘giving 110%’, then get into a battle over the course of a season where this is gradually increased to 150%. Of course, there is always the chance that the benchmark for your average footballer is about half of what they could achieve, so that their maximum capability was actually 200%. But I think it’s more likely to be crap use of language. Actually, the footballer angle doesn’t unduly worry me; it ends up being a Ron Manager-like pastiche. But I think the X-factor style ‘one million percent yes’ is really irritating.

2. The correct use of ‘well’. A particular annoyance at Emu Towers, where the small Emus are fully aware that calling anything ‘well good’ causes their doting father to turn from Bill Bixby to Lou Ferrigno almost instantly. Of course, this turns into good sport, particularly for #3:
“How are you this morning, Felix?”
“I’m well well, Dad”
And so on…

3. I’m not being <<insert code here>>, but…
I used to work with someone who would always start sentences with ‘I’m not being funny, but…’. And they never were.
Pop ‘racist’ into the sentence, and inevitably people think they can get away with the most outrageous slurs, because they’ve defended themselves accordingly. Astonishing.

4. The correct use of literally. I saw a TV show recently where someone said “My heart was literally in my mouth”. No it wasn’t, you daft twit. And more worryingly, #2 recently tried on some headphones that “literally made my head explode”. Just for that, he won’t be getting them for Christmas.

5. To be honest. Also a good one to start off a sentence. It sort of suggests that everything that doesn’t start off this way is a complete lie. Which it might be, for all I know.

6. For my sins. I don’t get this one at all. I got a phone call from someone at work once, who introduced himself with his name, promptly followed by’…for my sins’. As everyone’s favourite diminutive Scottish mackintosh clad popster would say…’it means nothing to me…’

7. …Aah Vienna. Meaningless song lyrics, used to minimal effect, in everyday language. Also see ‘Everything I do, I do for you’, and pretty much anything from the Bryan Adams back catalogue.

8. What’s that all about? Often used as a lazy end to a sentence, if you can’t really be arsed to give it due consideration. In my experience, very popular after a couple of pints by men sporting bad knitwear and worse haircuts.

9. OMG & LOL & ROTFL etc. Aside from the fact that a long time ago I used to be in a band called Laughing Out Loud and we soooo should have patented that name and made buckets of cash, it’s putting abbreviation in to irritate and show off most of the time. Honestly. FFS, how annoying.

10. Not a problem. Apparently this was quite the thing to say in the early 1990’s. I would like to suggest that anyone still using it in 2010 should probably be put in the stocks for not keeping up. In our local Co-op, there’s a sallow youth on the till who uses ‘Not a problem’ as a substitute for saying, well, anything else:
“Can I pay by card?”
“Not a problem”
“And some cashback?”
“Not a problem”
“£30 ok ?”
“Not a problem”
“Not a problem”
“Bye then”
“Not a problem”

This is slightly irritating to me for two reasons. Firstly, I fear that he’s got so used to “Not a problem” being his stock response, that if his house was on fire, his car stolen, a plague of locusts came into the shop etc, then he’d be straight in with “Not a problem”. Secondly, I’m irritated that, a bit like ‘to be honest’ above, the implication is that there should be a problem in the first place. Which given the circs, means that I’m troubling him every time I go into the shop. Actually, put like that, I’m not overly bothered.

If you see any of these objectionable uses of our language on future pages of The Emu, feel free to pop round to my house and shoot me in the knee with a BB Gun. To be honest, I don’t think you will.


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