Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pet Peeves (all encountered in one day in different media)

1. 'Deep down'.
2.'behind the thin veneer of civilisation'
3. 'albeit'
4. 'It's all about [insert plot/ emotion/ proper noun/ verb followed by preposition]
5. 'at the end of the day'


Tabula Rasa said...

clearly you don't work in consulting :-)

km said...

Hey, hey, TR, stop trashing the second-oldest profession in the world.

I have a deep hatred for "at the end of the day", "and the bottom-line is", "to tell you the truth", "to be honest" (and the stock phrase "cowardly act", when used to describe an act of violence).

But can you please provide an example to explain #4?

Szerelem said...

@TR: I know consultants are cheesy and full of crap and all but even they don't use stuff like this!!
Well not in written reports anyway.

@km: "At the end of the day, it's all about what you want. You have to make the decision"

Szerelem said...

ok space bar didn't mean "It's all about you..." in that sense...but I was just given that crap yesterday (by a consultant, no less) so I guess I jumped the gun

Space Bar said...

tr: how did you guess?!

km: "at the end of the day, it's all about growing up and getting on with your life because deep down we're all savages and all we want is a cave to sleep in and a fire and someone to club and throw over our shoulders."

oops. something about that didn't turn out right.

szer: that sounds about right, actually. :D

Space Bar said...

km: oops. a minor numbering problem which i've fixed now.


it's all about [the necklace that someone dropped in the victoria]
it's all about [a mother's love.]
it's all about [this girl called Aditi.]
it's all about [waking up (and smelling the coffee)].

Cheshire Cat said...

Surely you know deep down, that at the end of the day, it's all about how cliches keep the primordial power of Language from erupting behind the thin veneer of civilisation?

Gotta agree with you on "albeit", though.

??! said...

'The truth of the matter is'

', baby' - that's the correct way to finish that sentence.

nowhere man said...

Ok These are just fillers. Why be peeved at the fillers? :|

"I need a closure" on this.

swar said...

I very much defend #1 and #5. My philosophy won't exist without them.

km said...

No Puff Daddy fans here? It's all about the Benjamins, remember?

"Albeit" does not deserve that much hatred.

//Reading R.K. Narayan's version of the Ramayana reminded me of how much I hate the word "verily".

Cheshire Cat said...

km, it's a peeve, but it's a pet peeve. So that's OK...

Veena said...

"on the same page"
"keep in the loop"
"silver bullet"
"bring to the table"

tr: clearly, you teach consulting wannabes. Those are all wannabe terms. Like people pointed out, we don't use such stuff in the real world.

Falstaff said...

'last but not least'

Why is it that every single person who introduces the final speaker in any session at any conference feels obliged to say that?

Just once I'd like to hear someone say "last and very much the least"

Other picks:

'I see where you're coming from' (especially when followed by 'but')
'platonic' (used in the sense of non-sexual)

Falstaff said...

oh, and the way 'casual' and 'pre-marital' are used interchangably when describing sex.

km said...

@Veena: Without those words, I will have nothing to say at work. (But I refuse to say "incentivize" and "actionable".)

I see this discussion rapidly devolve into a "I hate sports metaphors in business meetings" thread.

(Won't someone tell me I just knocked that one right out of the ballpark?)

//"I see where you are coming from" is a physical impossibility and an ugly phrase.

Falstaff said...

and then there's stakeholders. Which I don't really have anything against. Except it always makes me think of a gang of angry villagers beating at Count Dracula's castle door.

Space Bar said...

Aha. Lots of raw nerves here, I see.

I forgot 'our very own'. Variations include India's very own; Hyderabad's very own and so on.

km: this means you use 'albeit'? i shall look out for it in your posts!

swar: you should write a proper defense. we are not convinced.

veena/tr: i can see how those terms would annoy a consultant type. i see where you're coming from.

falsie: re stakeholders, i'm reminded of those Mad spoofs of cliches. you know, like the one where throwing a tantrum would mean being a champion weightlifter. of course that was in the days before facebook.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that I've been introduced to the academic world, I rather like this one:

"Yes, but can you tease those two things apart?"

I also like that I could freely use the word "epistemological" instead of "incentivize".

At the end of the day, you're another day older.


Falstaff said...

n! Ah, academic speak.

Let's not forget the joys of 'counterfactual', 'reverse causality' and 'identifying assumptions'. Not to mention heteroskedasticity, which always sounds to me like strip club for statisticians.

Space Bar said...

nowhere man: yes, but it's the fillers that are annoying.

n!: i'm going to spend the whole day sorting out all the visions that 'tease those two things apart' conjures. deeply grateful.

cat: pets are nice, aren't they? you can pat an albeit on the head and it would just purr.

falsie: define 'heteroskedasticity'. (I feel like the captain in Wall.E)

Szerelem said...

Heteroscedasticity brings back awful memories of econometrics class. It was so long back, I thankfully remember very little of it. Trust me you dont want to know what it means - has a lot to do with techniques like OLS (Ordinary least Squares) and random variables in econometric equations having constant variance. When they dont - they're heteroscedastic. (If my econometrics serves me right)

Smoke Screen said...

Rhetoric is just language flexing its muscles. And pet peeves are, I'm afraid, just prejudices.

Richard Lanham's Style: An Anti-Textbook is still the best book on the subject:
"People seldom write to be clear. They have designs on their fellow men. Pure prose is as rare as pure virtue ..."

??! said...

You know real pet peeves?
'In my humble opinion' (if it's so humble, shut it and keep it. Especially if it's 'IMHO'!)

'I totally agree with...'
'Like, wow'
'you know' (nononononono! I don't! That's why you're telling me)

Of course these are prejudices! Who's denying it?

Space Bar said...

szer: already i don't want to know more!

smoke screen: mm hmm. so you're saying that if i encounter the sentence 'deep down we are all selfish', and i see it with clear, unprejudiced eyes, i have a chance of taking something useful from it?

??!: now why do i get the feeling you're being nasty?

Smoke Screen said...

Space Bar:

You don't have to find anything useful in it. But that's the point, nah? YOU may not find anything useful in it. That doesn't make it useless per se. In my view, all language is communication. (Which is why "Language for Communication" programs baffle me. Is there language that is not communication?)

"Deep down" is appropriate/inappropriate (note: not good/bad/ugly) only in context, not in general. To dismiss something as obtuse or convoluted is easy enough - a dash of prejudice is all you need. But to understand that style is individual and communicates soemthing - that requires discernment, perhaps?

Smoke Screen said...

Sigh. Typo. Something.

Space Bar said...

smoke screen: why do i get the feeling you're saying i lack discernment because i find these five usages particularly annoying?

oh and all typos welcome here. i'm the queen of typos; ask anyone.

Smoke Screen said...


That's coz you're taking it personally. :)

I'm always uncomfortable with anything that's even faintly prescriptivist without the context being specified. That's one reason myths about style and usage get perpetuated.


km said...

Is there language that is not communication?

Clearly, you haven't spent much time with consultants :)

Anonymous said...

All in all
Remains to be seen
Ideate (Worst offender)
Win-win situation
Per se (and other Latin phrases used when a normal English one will do)
and most stock phrases 'The Hindu' uses for sports headlines.

Rachel Fox said...

I like the 'last and very much the least' but what is wrong with that platonic? It's in my dictionary with that the wrong ballpark? Ahead of the game? Details please!

Space Bar said...

varali: agree about 'ideate'. it is extremely anooying.

rachel: i oughtn't to answer for falstaff, but i'm fairly certain he meant to say that platonic - in the original sense in which plato formulated it - does not mean asexual. you'll have to go back to the republic to check this one out.

Rachel Fox said...

I just hadn't realised there was still a fight being fought on that meaning of platonic. I had thought that (rightly or wrongly) the new if-not-improved definition of platonic was pretty much accepted alongside the old one (happily or angrily). I obviously don't know enough classical scholars...or something. Always interesting to find out what's driving people crazy!
p.s. I love your Space Bar name. Platonically of course...

Space Bar said...

rachel: at least one part of every such peeve is a nostalgia for the pristine past in which things meant what they were meant to! (i'm being facetious, people).

the meanings of words change but one can't help feeling that with some words, something is lost with each change. like 'cute', which once took the 'a' off 'acute' but now means something twee.

i like words that accrete meanings. but nothing that people have contributed here falls in that category.

and thanks (about the name)!

Smoke Screen said...

(If I may, SB?)
Oh I have. Which is why I understand that consultants do not speak like poets/editors. And vice versa.

What some people dismiss as "not communication" is very often non-referential language - emotional, phatic, symbolic, purely social.

Falstaff said...

rachel: As SB says, I object to Platonic being used to mean asexual, since nothing Plato actually says in the Symposium suggests a lack of sex - quite the contrary. But also, I object to the way Platonic is generally used because in the modern sense Platonic relationships can be fairly casual, coming nowhere near the kind of intensity implied by the original.

(Actually, come to think of it, I once did a whole post on this - yes, here you go. Pay special attention to footnote 4, which, more than nostalgia for the way things used to be, is the reason it's a peeve)

I agree that the bastardized modern version of Platonic = asexual (why not just say asexual then?) is now widely accepted, so I should probably give up and just live with it, but I'm stubborn that way.