Words and Phrases I Dislike

English has always been a mess of a language with a mix of Old Norse, French and Latin. As a language learner I pay special attention to how English changes over time. I tried reading the Canterbury Tales but the English was too old to understand. If we jump to the 1920s with the first films I notice that men speak somewhat like radio announcers with very crisp and clear English. I noticed the different phrases and words that were said during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. I grew up in the ’80s so that was the English I started with. Over the past 20 years I’ve noticed many changes with many new words and phrases that particularly irk me and so I thought I’d keep a running list.

Put food on the table

This phrase started around 20 to 25 years ago I believe and is one I really dislike. Why can’t one just say “buy food?” I was reading a news article yesterday about the hardships inflation is causing and the phrase really stuck out with “pay bills and put food on the table.” It is a phrase that I believe seeks to try and endear the reader. “Buy food” elicits much less emotion whereas putting food on the table, one thinks of something shared with a family, something we can more easily identify with. I find it a sappy and insincere nod to shared challenges when we live in a capitalist society only driven by money and profits over the wellbeing of the people.

Can I get… (Worse: Lemme get)

This is most used in fast food restaurants and took the place of the more polite “I’d like,” or “Could I please have.” There is no politeness in the crude “Can I get.” It makes one seem uneducated, ungrateful and stupid.

I’ve got too much on my plate.

A metaphor that suggests one is consuming a bunch of tasks. One does not eat work, errands, tasks or anything where the verb “do” is appropriate. Hopefully this phrase will soon be digested and excreted from usage. Speaking of ‘consuming’ this brings me to the next word I dislike.

Consumer

“America is a nation of consumers.” In other words are principal reason to exist is to devour goods, products and services in a late-stage capitalist society. ‘Consuming’ more and more is what keeps the wheels turning in our economic system. It must always be more consumption, never less or the system starts to fail.

The first time I discovered I hated this word was in McDonalds where to discourage homeless from staying there a sign was posted “Food must be consumed within 30 minutes.” How vulgar and grotesque! Man walks in, says “Can I get” some very unhealthy food and then must ingest what barely passes for food within 30 minutes. This type of communication is better reserved for cockroaches than respectable people. But then again, we’re all “consumers,” aren’t we? The second definition of the word clearly demonstrates how I perceive this word.

A heterotrophic organism that ingests other organisms or organic matter in a food chain.

Unhoused

A politically correct word that does nothing to solve the problem of homelessness. It is a way for progressive politicians to feel they have done something without addressing the problem at all. Focusing on these two words themselves “homeless” is more appropriate because not everyone owns or rents a house. Many live in apartments or condominiums or other forms of shelter. Yet we wouldn’t say ‘Unapartamented” would we? I don’t like politically correct or corporate speak.

Pronouns

I still have no idea how an an innocent grammatical structure of English has caused such controversy. I always follow the rule to be kind to everyone but I cannot abide this pronoun nonsense or the infinite genders people want to create. Feel free to live your life as you see fit, but I’ll continue to use English as it intended and not distort it to try and fit into all the infinite identity issues people have. “They” is not intended to be used for an individual at the start of a sentence. They, when used at the beginning of a sentence denotes plural and that’s it!

Latinx

Spanish ends with o or a to denote male or female. This has been the case since it evolved from Latin and is again something the politically correct crowd has made up. The overuse of “offence” started around the ’90s when it appears that society became fragile, offended by every little thing.

Numbers in the teens

Unlike the other words in this list, numbers are a standard part of the English language. However, I dislike the teen numbers as they are not logical. Thinking about this I remember learning to count as a child and thought it didn’t make much sense then. Now that I’ve studied other languages I am assured that it is a mess.

The issue I have is that after eleven and twelve, we suddenly switch to “teen” at the end for the rest of the set. If English were to make sense it should be “oneteen,” “twoteen,” threeteen,” “fourteen,” fiveteen,” “sixteen,” “seventeen,” eighteen,” and “nineteen.” Then the set flows.

Categorically false

This is used by guilty people (or their lawyers) to vehemently reject the truth. You know the person is guilty when they “categorically deny” the facts that have come out.

Says

This seemingly innocuous word has gotten on my nerves due to the frequency of idiotic things people say that becomes a news article in my news feed. Random actor says, Trump says, narcissistic influencer says… Where before the internet modesty was a virtue, now people have to put every single thought on the internet. It has become a vast wasteland. Why would a b-level actor need to appear in my newsfeed because they said something? Twitter users never shut up!

Slam

This word is overused in the titles of news articles. There was a time when news articles were thoughtful. Now my newsfeed is cluttered with low-brow entertainment masquerading as news. Slam is a word that should be reserved for wrestling, not for times when a politician disparages something which seems to be hourly given our horrendous state of politics.

Put God back in schools!

Makes me think of the almighty as a student who was formerly praised everyday but then expelled. Those that use this phrase want others to believe what they do and be just like them. If you want ‘God’ in schools then go to a religious school as they are abundant. A public school is, as the name implies, open to the public and those who identify as religious continue to decline. Besides, God is worshiped in many different ways by innumerable faiths. However, in the USA people that use this phrase are referring to Christianity only. Put Christianity back in schools.


Corporate Speak

Leverage

This is the top corporate speak word and I detest it. The simple verb “use” is more than sufficient and appropriate for almost all cases in which business people want to “leverage” something. Leverage is used when something gives someone an advantage – to use as leverage. But business people overuse the word and it starts to sound silly. The interesting thing is they rarely use the word outside of work. Let’s look at the difference.

“Let’s leverage these flyers for communication.”
“We could leverage the data to create an agreement.”

“I’ll leverage this spoon to eat my soup.”
“Let’s leverage this ladder to get on the roof.”

Excited

Sales people are excited about everything. I’m really excited to share that (insert some mundane office thing). In fact, they are never not excited, they wake up excited, at their breakfast excited, drive to customer meetings excited. Sales speak is so mind-numbingly upbeat that it is no longer genuine. This is mostly an American way of doing things. Sales people smile, and practically squeal with excitement at the prospect of making a sale.

“I’m really excited to announce our new self-assessment tool which now includes 25 more questions!”

Challenge

Business speak for “problems.” Sales people never have problems, they are all now challenges! Part of the upbeat speak.

Delineate

When this word is used, you’ll most likely hear it two or three more times. It sounds professional, it sounds smart but without context it might be difficult for most to know what it means. It is kind of like a virus. Once it is out there, it will start cropping up in a lot of business conversations provided that they know what it actually means.

We’re a family!

I heard this used a lot at a former company. The CEO who insisted that we were a ‘work family” was soon fired. Corporations are never families. If they were then it would be one of the most dysfunctional families you ever met. The purpose of corporations are profits, that’s it. In a family, one is supposed to take care of each other in good times and in bad as you’re related by blood and have very long term shared experiences. However, if we were to apply corporate rules then a few quarters of ‘not meeting expectations’ would find a person quickly booted from the families. Good families don’t do that.

Encourage behavior change

A less positive word for the same thing is ‘manipulation.’ Most corporations expect conformity.

Circle back, Piggy back.

People that do not study language hear business speak and believes it makes them seem smart and more professional. Piggy-back is used in business but is neither smart, nor professional; it is a word best reserved for children and should never be used in a business setting.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/