12 Nov 2008

(basically) about phrases i hate

Oxford has come up with a list of irritating phrases in the book A Damp Squid. Some of them are words that are used too often while others are wrongly used or simply wrong. They are :
  1. At the end of the day
  2. Fairly unique
  3. I personally
  4. At this moment in time
  5. With all due respect
  6. Absolutely
  7. It’s a nightmare
  8. Shouldn’t of
  9. 24/7
  10. It’s not rocket science
While many of these phrases are used in India, I have my own list of problems with urban Indians who suddenly begin imagining in college that English is their mother tongue and start to massacre it. In the beginning it is always the wrong use of "the" and using plurals where it is not required. Some examples in real life encountered last week. The flight to the Delhi is delayed, How are you all doing todays, Sorry for inconveniences.

But pretty soon it becomes a real problem in social situations. I have noticed that most Indians when they get angry and want to maintain civility in a public situation break into English. Now you are wincing at their pronunciation and grammar and trying to hide a laugh while they are getting progressively angry. This can become even funnier when you are meeting a person of authority and some important life changing decisions are to be taken.

But these can be forgiven since one can put them down to the fact for most people using English it is a second language for them. And compared to Chinese, Koreans and many Asian groups we are much better off in using English.

What I cannot fathom is when people with reasonable English education (by which I mean nursery rhyme books from the 2nd year, obsessive parents and convent education) end up using phrases on a regular basis which make no sense to me. If they think it is their takiya kalaam it is not working for me. Here is my list of irritating words/phrases :

1. Basically
This is often used at the beginning of the sentence but provides no extra information. Basically this car can seat only four people. Or - Basically, people are against a change in the law. This is repeated again and again in a discussion. However once it become part of the speech it also creeps into their writing.

2. Essentially
Used again like the earlier word and sometimes they are used in place of the other in a conversation. Again the word gives no additional information. Essentially, it seems like an intellectual way of emphasizing one's point of view but it never has that effect.

3. (Let me tell you) where I am coming from
This one is a no brainer. If anything it puts off the listener since all discussion stops at this point. It seems like an opening for a clarification but all it does is undo everything that has been discussed earlier. When the speaker has finished the sentence there is always an uncomfortable silence.

Of course there are phrases I use too. My point is often comes up in my conversations even when I talk in Malayalam. On this blog I often use What is interesting all the time.

What about you?

1 comment:

bhumi said...

well....my fav is well