Tag Archives: pundits

Grammar Grossiosities

These are a few handy reminders of how to avoid appearing as though you are from Loma Linda or spend all day watching re-runs of the Khardasians.  These are the words and phrases that should be shunned at all costs and is an easy way to elevate your communication skills and certainly make you seem more erudite.

Totally–What are you a Valley Girl?  Even if you are drop it, totally.  You can always try completely, entirely or how about dropping any adjective altogether.  Next thing you’ll be describing someone as totally dead.

Just–You are almost always better off not using that word.   Simply eliminate it.  It should   only be used when you definitely need to make a point of emphasis.

Really–Really, you are best advised to drop this one also under nearly ever circumstance.  Again, this should be used when making an exclamatory remark and that should be a relatively rare event.  I mean most events and circumstances don’t call for that  “shouting” type lingo.  You can always try truly or even verily if you are of the more formal bent.

So–So what?  Gee whiz where in the world did this usage spring from?  It is completely, totally unnecessary word.   Silence before you begin your sentence if so much more elegant.  So are we totally clear on that?

Hey–the TV reporters seem particularly determined to use this every time they are introduced but it has spread like an unwanted linguistic virus.  It you feel compelled to make a greeting how about hello, how are you or if you wish to raise you level you could even use ahoy.   After all that was the preferred greeting of Bell for the phone but surprise, surprise it never totally caught on with the public.  The best advice is to start speaking without any lead in.

Like–Like, totally this is so juvenile and a waste of verbiage.  Drop it.  It will raise your IQ in the opinion of your listener 10 points automatically.

Lean in–What the devil is this supposed to mean?   Try harder, fight harder?  Don’t give up.  Assert yourself?  Exactly what is it you are leaning over or into?  You can do better than that.

Good or Great question–I am worn out hearing that remark.  Go straight to the response.  If it is actually a great question if will be self-evident without note.  If the questioner is bright enough to ask a good question they will be bright enough to not need needless and pointless praise.  Hopefully they don’t need the “good job” all those helicopter moms give their 7 year olds for merely walking onto the soccer field.

Awesome–How many events or occurrences in life are awesome?   My wedding, my children’s births and a hand full of athletic or business accomplishments fill out the resume for me and probably you.  The word should only be used like a fine family heirloom and worn for special occasions only.   Today suggesting a Big Mac is met with the “awesome” response, how demeaning to fine old word.

Here’s the thing–Oh, is it right there beside you?  I was looking everywhere.  Don’t use this expression.  You’ll like totally appear smarter.  It has the same linguistic value as clearing one’s throat before speaking.

Now for a few goodies for the knuckle -draggers out there that equate the sports pages with Samuel Johnson’s essays.

Physicality–What?  Those sportscasters that use this are falling into the verbal pits.  Are they talking about agility? Speed, Stamina, strength, sense of balance.  We all know they sure are not referencing the IQ of those NFL players they are describing.  I never met a physicality I liked.  But I admire physical attributes.  Oh,,,,,maybe that is what they are talking about.

Mentality–Well, first I need to observe that it is reassuring to know that there is anything mental whatsoever about those defensive ends pounding bodies into dust and start and end every sentence with “you know”.  One can only assume, generously, that it is a reference to mental attitude, one’s mental mien or an attitude of determination and emotional resilience if face of some adversity.  Can we take as a given that they are not referring to those folks as mental cases?  Both of these last two are tragic examples of language being sucked into an abyss of the lowest common denominator of cultural linguistic abuse.

Body of work–How in the world did these sports guys every latch onto this tidbit.  It has historically been used to discuss the career and works of artists.  A cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons now has a body of work.  Really, like I totally thought he was a grown man playing a game that would have no lasting impact on mankind.  But I guess now I should think anew and realize that his play is the equivalent of da Vinci.

So, you can like close your books we have leaned in on proper grammar enough for now and I know, you know, that this was a totally awesome experience for you.

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”  Mark Twain.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com





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Really Annoying Words And Phrases

The pundits and talking heads in the media apparently do some Wikipedia research to utilize what they consider trendy and “new” words and phrases.  They also slip into the comfortable use of the trite.  Both systems are used to populate their delivery in what they no doubt consider crisp and modern language to elevate the knowledge level of the great unwashed out here in the hinterland. Regrettably, they often merely annoy or offend the educated ear.   Yes, it might surprise some of them to know that there are folks beyond the Hudson or Potomac who are actually literate or erudite.   The following is a small sample of their ill-use of the Queen’s English.

1.  At the end of the day–Gee whiz folks come on.  No one ever heard or used that expression until the Gulf War when the British commanders were interviewed and they used that term.   CNN and the others apparently thought it sounded very learned because it became the standard for wrapping up and conversational point.  How about not using it at all?   Simply state whatever is on your mind.  In the final analysis.  The denouement will be—.   The result will be….  There are alternatives believe it or not.  They should show some creativity and stray from the herd at least occasionally.

2. Body of work–This is of particular use by those in the sports world when talking about a specific athlete.   The phrase historically was used to talk about the work of artists.  The true thing,  painters, sculptors, etc.  How about “look at his history in the game”.  His record shows—-.   A great track record.  Based on past experience—.   Or again, how about simply dropping the phrases altogether.

3.  Exact same—A real irritant in the world of redundancy.   How about similar.  Or same thing.  It is like what happened before.  Exactly.  Same means just that–the same and the qualifier of exact is a waste of syllables and the alphabet and our time.  We get the idea.

4.  Just/Really.  Oh, boy where to start.  How many times do you hear or read someone who throws in a just or really fifteen times in one short paragraph ?  A tip to the allegedly educated pundits and everyone really (pun intended) don’t use either word ever unless you really really need it as an emphasis point.   You will be understood by the man on the street if those words never cross your lips or appear in you typing.

5.  So–  Since when that become the required lead in for every sentenced uttered?   That use to start ever sentence makes you sound so Valley Girl.   Drop it already.  Try to emulate Hemingway a bit.  If the word doesn’t add to your intended narrative or move your intended content forward don’t use it.  It is a wasted word and certainly doesn’t make you sound more intelligent to your audience be it large or small.

6.  Here’s the thing–the cousin of “so”.  Read the advice given above.   To spice things up a bit if that is your goal how about “in point of fact”.    Anything.  For heaven’s sake try something different that what everyone else is using.  Y0u’ll come across as the most original guy in the room by dropping that unnecessary lead in.

7.  Great question–.   Or often phrased as “good” question.  You are not required to constantly compliment your interrogator.  To repeat, drop the phrase altogether and answer the damn question without further ado.    Of course we wouldn’t begin to  believe that one of those pundits is using that phrase as a method to let you know how smart they are because they can answer such a great question.

8.  Under the bus–.  Is there a political talk show where they don’t use that expression every time there is a public disagreement among p0ls on the same side?   How about ol what’s his name is being sacrificed for —.  He is going on the altar of public sacrifice for—.   He is being abandoned because—.  The English language is rich and a similar concept can be conveyed in many ways.  Get off the bus already.

9.  Wheelhouse–another favorite of the political pundits when discussing the expertise and or lack thereof of particular public figures.  Of course not a darn one of them have ever been on a sailing ship or other blue water vessel and have no idea how the wheelhouse works.  One can only suppose they believe it gives them a jaunty lilt to their comments.  It merely makes them appear silly and pretentious.  How about “they are not competent” in that area.  Better yet make a straightforward statement without the qualifier.

10.  You know—You know that is my personal favorite annoyance.  It is like sitting next to someone is smacking that damn gum in public.  Every sentence, every paragraph does NOT need to have that phrase sprinkled throughout like salt on the french fries.  Concentrate, get a grip and don’t use that expression.  You come across as the most ignorant of hillbillies even with that degree from Harvard.

At a later date we will add to this list.  No doubt you have many other words or phrases in your mind that could be added to this list.  Following the suggestions here would sure shorten the segments on those talks shows and might even leave some of those pundits tongue-tied.

“Man is not made for defeat”  Old Man And The Sea”—Hemingway.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Filed under Culture, government

Trite, Maybe True, But Sure Tiring

There is a constant evolution and use of words and phrases that somehow seep into the public discourse about the issues or merely the news of the day.  When the media pick them up it seems that all the pundits and “spokespersons” for the administration start using them over and over.  They are like a bunch of lemmings following the current trendy catch phrases and sometime seem intent on using them rather than even attempt to consider other words or phrase choices.  They get over used and wear on the nerves of those who admire the Queen’s English and the abundance of words and expressions available to communicate ideas.  Let’s take a look at only a few of them and see if you are as worn out with them as I am.

End of the day–A nice use of words from our British  brothers.  It was first given wide spread coverage during the First Gulf War in ’92 by some of the British military personnel.  It is a perfectly good phrase to take use to the conclusion of an event or episode and predict the outcome of that occurrence.   It faded a bit but then revived in the Second Gulf War when the British took an even more active role in the fighting and occupation of Iraq.  Now it is bandied about for all manner of political or economic discussions.  How about “when all is said and done” if they want a little punch to their comments?  They could simply say that when the outcome is reached this will be the result.  The fancy ones could even use the term denouement when speaking of the end game of event.  Sometimes one wants to reach into the TV set and throttle the repetition of end of the day speakers.  Watch CNN or Fox or any of the others tonight and the odds are you will hear that phrase sometime during the broadcast.

Shovel-ready–You envision someone with a hard hat on a construction site speaking about the beginning of a new project.   Of course the use of the word shovel is really a throwback.  How many modern projects utilize a shovel anymore?   In case those speakers haven’t heard of Caterpillar or Deere there are lots and lots of mechanized machines that do the lifting these days.  Why can’t they simply say we want projects that have been completely permitted and zoned and are ready for construction to begin.  Of course these days that permitting and zoning approval is no small matter.  Heck, even for a small footbridge over the local creek you probably have to file an EPA environmental impact study.   Next thing you know they will be talking about our next Moon expedition being “shovel ready”.  Enough already.  How ab0ut saying they want projects that are ready for the dirt to fly!

Body of work–Every art curator must getting hives listening to the constant use of this one.  You even hear it now talking about athletes and football coaches.  They are simply saying to take a look at someone’s record or history.  So, just say that.  What “work” exactly are they referring to with regard to some wide receiver?   Even politicians are having this phrase applied to their endeavors.  Lots of folks would question whether or not anything the pols do in Washington would constitute work.  These people aren’t Da Vinci with a body of work to be examined or a writers or poets.  Shut it down and come up with something more appropriate to the circumstances.

Exit strategy–Now this one is used for military situations, diplomatic matters and even in the economic realm.  It’s an ok phrase like all the others until it gets overdone.  Why not simply ask how are we going to get out of this mess?  Of course we could use that cousin of “end of the day” and ask what is the “end game”.  Nothing wrong with wanting to know what Plan A is or even Plan B in any situation.  Then we should simply ask what is the long-term strategy for this situation.  The phrase sounds too much like a Bernie Madoff sipping his brandy and thinking about his plans to bolt to Brazil like Ben Jack Cage.  Of course old Bernie was off on his timing a bit.  If you don’t remember Ben Jack Cage then look him up.   A very colorful character who managed to get away with it and spend his waning years on the beaches in Brazil with young gals and rum drinks. 

The British call them biscuits and we call them cookies.  Almost all our language comes straight from the Mother Country but we have some with different origins like this one.  The early Dutch had a word for them–koeckjes, which meant small sweet cakes.  That is what they were called in New Amsterdam then New York.   Of course is it pronounced “cook-yehs” and that is the word and pronunciation that stuck over the years and centuries.  You buy those small Dutch sweet cakes all the time for your children and grandchildren.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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