Friday, November 07, 2008

Ten Most Irritating Expressions

Thank you Charlotte Bailey of The Telegraph, UK.

What's your most irritating phrase? Mine is probably the oft-misused "Hopefully."

Oxford compiles list of top ten irritating phrases

A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.

Heading the list was the expression 'at the end of the day', which was followed in second place by the phrase 'fairly unique'.

The tautological statement "I personally" made third place – an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as "the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice."

Also making the top 10 is the grammatically incorrect "shouldn't of", instead of "shouldn't have".

The phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused.

As well as the above expressions, the book's author Jeremy Butterfield says that many annoyingly over-used expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and "synergy".

Other phrases to irritate people are "literally" and "ironically", when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: "We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism – and the same seems to happen with some language."

The top ten most irritating phrases:

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


Jen Forbus said...

I have to say that as a former English teacher, this kind of "stuff" never really bothered me. Heck, I've probably been guilty of some of it myself at one point or another. Mistakes like "shouldn't of" bothered me if I saw them written, but in normal conversation my motto was always, "if you're getting the message across, then you've accomplished your mission." Some people sound a little more competent getting that message across, but you'll always have that. Our language is a living breathing thing and we have to accept change in it. Either that or sit around worrying how other people use it. Me, I have other things to do...

Pia said...

I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only person bothered by #8! Ugh. :)