Friday, 8 June 2012

Annoying Language Foibles

I'm sure I'm not the only person who gets irritated by what I perceive to be improper use of language, mostly English, but also in one case Italian.  And this is beyond the kiddie speak in the hood:  "Yo, yo, 'sup?"  No, I'm talking mainstream grown-up talk that is like a mosquito buzzing in my ear.  The following is but a small sample of irritating language usage.

I got my first nigglings as a Canadian public servant.  The bureaucracy is a great producer of inane jargon and annoying word usage.  Public servants are often concerned about getting the "messaging" right for an initiative, instead of just plain old "message", and there seems to a lot of "disconnects" between stakeholders.  I remember finding other word usage bizarre, like for example when a senior public servant takes on leadership of an issue, he is sometimes referred to as a Sherpa, which is a Tibetan and Nepalese ethnic group noted for its general mountaineering expertise.  Examples abound, but suffice to say any government institution is an incubator for linguistic silliness.

I have also been noticing a trend on DIY television show.  I like to call it the tyranny of the preposition.  My wife's renovation shows have contractors forever "painting out" objects and structures or "switching out" one lighting fixture for another, when simple "painting" or "switching" will do.  Cooking shows are also guilty and are always "baking off" cookies and "reducing down" sauces.  I have actually had to stop watching one of my favourite television chef's, Michael Smith, because of his liberal use of the preposition.

My final pet peeve relates to the new found food fashion for grilled sandwiches known as panini.  Panini is the Italian word for sandwiches.  Note that I use the plural.  Panini is the plural and panino is the singular.  Therefore, I am driven crazy by signs advertizing paninis.  This is pluralizing the plural.  Like saying bananases.  Aaargh.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I will spare you.  I'm interested in hearing about your linguistic pet peeves.


  1. I have loads but I really hate totes and vacay! The abbreviation of words that don't need abbreviating and just make you sound like an idiot! I even had the misfortune to hear them both used whilst in NYC, a barista said to a customer..I just totes got back from my vacay! I didn't scream, but it took every ounce of strength in my body not to shout..Its TOTALLY and its VACATION!! I'm English which is worse because its not even vacation but holiday. I forgave her seeing as I was in America (when in Rome and all that).

    1. Excellent points. Your post reminds me of others: the whole Starbucks lexicon, for one - e.g. Venti, Grande and Tall. Also the ubiquitous "like" as a form of punctuation, like, you know what I, like, mean?