Pollsters at Marist College have found that we Americans are most annoyed by the use of “whatever” in conversations. Forty-seven percent of us. Another 25 percent are annoyed by “you know.”
I mean, my list of annoying words and phrases is long, and the older and more curmudgeonly I grow, the longer the list grows.
I mean, beginning a sentence with "I mean" annoys me no end. Especially when it is paired with “you (ya) know.”
And I, like, nearly go mad when I, like, hear the staccato repetition of "like" all day. As when students on campus say (in their lingo,"go"), like, "I mean, you know, I was like, you know. I mean...." When I get them in class and they say that in discussion, I stop them dead with “No. I do not know what you mean.” Or, “it’s not ‘like ethics’; it’s “ethics.” They look at me blankly for a second, then patiently translate what they are saying into language an old fuddy-duddy professor can understand.
Arguably, "arguably" isn't a word that's needed, but I get the impression that many writers (and some speakers) today aren't willing to make a flat statement and face argument, so they hedge with "arguably" ad nauseum.
In fact, I've wondered whether the Sulzbergers couldn't save millions on ink each year if they eliminated "arguably" and "famously" from the pages of the Times. Just this week, I read there that "Antone's Home Of The Blues was, famously, at 29th and Guadaloupe...." and that Lance Armstrong is "arguably the world's most famous endurance athlete...."
I should say, iconic New York Times which this week referred to "Maine's most iconic industry" and wrote that Irving Penn transformed cigarette butts "to iconic status." With that one, another couple of million, at least, goes down a drain on Eighth Ave. each year.
Now, television reporters like to interject "now" at the beginning of sentences--sometimes two or three in the same story. And by the time I have gotten past the "nows," I can't remember what the story was about.
I would add to my list, Brit-isms like "early on," "towards," and "amongst," and one weatherman's "one hour's time" and "in the overnight hours."
Now, some day--at the end of the day--my wife is going to find me dead on the couch in front of the tv set, a newspaper clutched in my cold, dead hand, and, my face like, I mean, you know, arguably contorted into a reasonable facsimile of Munch's famously iconic "The Scream."
Thank you for reading my rant. And, please, dear reader, do not say “No problem.”