This week Blockbusting author Stephen King was interviewed for The Atlantic. In this discussion about the dark art of teaching writing, he revealed the phrases which give him a proverbial dose of the shites. For King nothing clears (a-hem) writers blockage faster than the expressions “Some people say”, or “Many believe,” or “The consensus is”. He also despises IMHO, YOLO, and LOL. The piece has done multiple laps around the world has triggered spirited discussion on social media. I’ve been following it was interest because in my grumpy old age nothing gives me more enjoyment than an orgy of “I hate that too”. (Except perhaps a light, crisp rose, a block of over 75% cacao Lindt and the spectacle of shirtless sword fighting Vikings).
Back in the day when I wrote about the stock market for a living, I was guilty of overusing the term “consensus” as was every equity analyst in town. There was a consensus about the use of consensus. It got so bad that one of our dealers chided the research team about “sitting around the campfire of consensus”. We also regularly dropped clangers like “scalable business model”, “leverage”, “synergies”, “share price catalysts”, “the investment story” and (shudder) “going forward”. No doubt had Stephen King been present at a stockbrokers meeting he would have let Cujo loose on the lot of us.
Now that I’ve tumbled off the career trajectory, I’m still keen to irritate Stephen King and others through the use of IMHO. In my humble opinion, its more efficient than writing IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion). I’ve never exercised YOLO because I can imagine its what Justin Bieber said when he crashed that Ferrari. And even at my advanced age I know that LOL is naff. I prefer emoticons when I’m LOLing. ;-) (I’m not trying to argue that its cool).
Anyhow reading through the lively reaction to King’s comments, there appears to be a consensus about hating the term “going forward” or “moving forward”. Similarly many believe those who like punctuate every sentence with the word “like” should be like shot. Also I was LMFAOing at the widespread distaste for abbreviations. I’ve got a few of my own to add to the linguistic stink list.
1) “The magic happens outside your comfort zone”. The terms “magic happens” and “outside your comfort zone” are annoying enough on their own. Combining them is taking wankery to a whole new level. If this sentence is used with a diagram illustrating where the “magic happens” my irritation goes off the scale.
2) “On the same page”. It would have to be an excessively large page for us both to fit.
3) “Change the game”. Life is like Monopoly – some people buy up half the board and others pay rent. I’d rather play Catch n’ Kiss. Lets change the game.
4) “Hit the ground running”. I’d rather not hit the ground at all. It sounds painful.
5) “Think outside the square”. What’s wrong with the square? Its hip to be square.
6) “It is what it is”. A redundant expression if ever I have heard one.
On the other hand, much of the old style Australian idiom has gone the way of the dodo and I would like to see it back a come back (Much like Christ is touted to do – any day now). My family were always (a-hem) colourful with their use of language and it baffles me that some of their sayings have dropped out of (or never made it into) the common parlance. For example when thirsty my father would say something along the lines of
“Bren I tell you. I am drier than a nun’s nasty”.
When doubtful of someone’s intelligence he’d say
“That guy wouldn’t know if his arse is on fire” or alternatively
“That guy wouldn’t know his arse from his elbow”.
My personal favorite was reserved for describing a person who was a bad -
“He couldn’t hit pussy in the arse with a plate of wheat”.
I wont tell you how he described bad drivers, save to say it involved digits and orifices.
My brother inherited my father’s interesting turn of phrase. He has been known to muse deeply about the comedic value of farts in elevators. However my favorite quote from him is one he uses when an issue is of little concern to him.
” I couldn’t give an f%^king rats ring in raspberry juice”.
Why that gem didn’t enter the mainstream dialect I will never know.
I guess this goes to show that whilst you can take me out of the Sutherland Shire and transplant into an affluent area you’ll never make me classy. Its just not in the DNA. And seriously blog fans would you want me any other way.
What sayings make you cringe? And which ones should be used more often?
LOL (as in lots of love)
PS: Dadabs gave me a years subscription to Photoshop for my birthday. He is delighted that I’m using it to set fire to Nicki Minaj’s arse.