Irritating expressions or worse

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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:58 am

aaa
John, Which brings to mind that wondrous platitude which we know but dare not say: “When the going gets rough, the tough get going.”—Yikes!
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Ken – December 30, 2011
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:56 am

A perennial favourite from online commenters responding to a news story: "You can't fix stupid!"

It makes me want to fix them the way a vet 'fixes' a tomcat.
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:58 am

Ken >> “When the going gets rough, the tough go to the Boxing Day sales.” .. is that any better or does it just make it worse ??

WoZ who piked on the sales this year
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:16 am

aaa
Ooh! A PERSON OF INTEREST
<2012” L.A. arson probe: Suspect arrested in string of fires. Officials said the ‘person of interest’ detained early Monday in connection with a string of more than 50 deliberately set fires has been arrested and is expected to be booked on arson charges later in the afternoon.”—Los Angeles Times, 2 January>
If a person isn’t suspected of a crime but believed to know something about it, maybe a possible witness, then perhaps they are not a suspect and might be considered a person of interest. But what is this bullsihit? If a guy is caught on video cameras, and every police officer in town has a pretty good idea of what he looks like, then it seems that he should be more than a person of interest and he might even be, God forbid, a suspect or, even worse, a possible “perpetrator!”

Later in the day:
<2012 “Federal official's tip leads to arson suspect: An official involved in the case recognized him when police Sunday night released images of a person of interest seen on a surveillance tape after a car fire at the Hollywood & Highland shopping center.”—Los Angeles Times, 2 January>
I suppose the news folks know how to call a spade a spade from the start, but perhaps because of legal concerns, or of offending a possible arsonist (PC, you know), those who spew police official-speak must tiptoe through the tulips. Only when he is thoroughly nailed does he get promoted from person-of-interesthood to suspectedness.(>:)
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Ken – January 2, 2012
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by trolley » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:48 pm

Similarly, there was a case here a few years ago where a psycho beheaded a fellow passenger on a bus. It was witnessed by about 30 other people, including several cops. The bastard even admitted to the whole thing and yet, throughout many months of trial the media kept referring to him as the "alleged" killer or the man who "allegedly" killed the other passenger. Somehow, to me, this seemed disrespectful to the victim, his family, and all the witnesses. God forbid that we should offend this loon before it gets some official stamp!
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by trolley » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:35 am

I just saw a tv ad for Starbucks Coffee. Their new slogan is "Let's merry". Let's merry? What the hell?
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:17 am

aaa
<2012 “The tumors are not cancerous and are thought to be genetically inherited, though obviously the size begins to cause some major health issues.”—Medical News Today, 8 January>
What happened to good old problems. I suppose that there are no more problems these days, only their irritating and unnecessary euphemization, ISSUES. Your child has behavior issues. The company has issues. You’ve got a heart issue. You’ve got issue ISSUES. How about, one more ‘issue’ and you’ve got a knuckle sandwich, which might cause some dental issues!
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Ken – January 8, 2012
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:35 am

I agree with you up to a point there, Ken: sometimes the use of euphemisms can be annoying, needlessly obfuscatory or even evil in intent (e.g. Nazi Germany's 'final solution' for exterminating the Jews). And no benefit is to be had from describing the problems caused by tumours as 'health issues' (though in this case they were at least also labelled 'major').

But I want to defend 'issue' as having some legitimate uses. Framing a situation as a 'problem' is often liable to set up an antagonism, whereas calling it an 'issue' takes some of the emotional heat, and/or the accusatory tone, out of it.

For example, when a teacher calls in the parents of one of her pupils for a conference regarding the misbehaviour of their child in class, if she tells them "I've asked you to come here today because I feel Johnny has some problems we need to sort out", I think many parents would immediately feel defensive about what was about to come next.

On the other hand, if the teacher tells them "I've asked you to come here today because there are some issues we need to address regarding the way Johnny behaves in class", the parents might still feel apprehensive, but they would be less likely to think they or their child were about to be accused of something. Here 'issue' is being used diplomatically in order to forestall an unnecessary escalation of emotion and possible confrontation.

This sometimes also applies on a much larger scale. For instance, how the difficult relationship between the English and the Irish they governed should be handled was often referred to as 'the Irish Question' rather than 'the Irish Problem'. Nowadays it would probably get dubbed 'the Irish Issue'.

The essential difference is, I think, that a problem implicitly has a blameworthy cause or agent at its root, whereas an issue or a question is easier to regard as a phenomenon to be discussed, negotiated over, and perhaps amicably resolved.
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:29 pm

I agree with Ken on the fact that issue is cheesily misused and with Erik in that there are times when it's a convenient word to have in one's lexicon. (I'm saving up all my contentiousness for a meeting this afternoon with my bank, to discuss the issue of the disappearing interest - it could well turn out to be a problem).

The verb - noun - prepositiony thing MWV take issue with uses issue in a non-neutral sense - there's contention, or at least disagreement, involved. You can bank on it.
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:11 pm

Here’s one that seems to be spreading like a bad cold: baby-daddy. The Oxford English Dictionary defines baby-daddy as "the father of a woman's child, who is not her husband or (in most cases) her current or exclusive partner." They are usually dead-beat, absent, and have no role other than providing the sperm. I think the term started in the “Hip-hop” culture. I wish it had stayed there. I heard my 20 year old daughter use it this morning, talking about an aquaintance’s “trifling baby-daddy”. Aargh! I could never understand my dad’s objections to me using slang when I was young…I guess it all comes around, sooner or later.
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:43 am

aaa
I was in my car listening to NPR this evening when I heard that Obama unexpectedly announced that his chief of staff William Daley was resigning. And the reason given for the resignation was that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He had originally promised to stay around until the 2012 election.

This is the stock, lame explanation when someone is either forced out of their position, which I think was the case here, or else was unhappy on the job and quit in disgust.
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Ken – January 9, 2012 (who wants to spend more time with his cat)
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:27 am

I too heard that NPR item.

I have noticed that the reporters who file stories on people who resign to spend more time with their families never bother to find out whether their families want to spend more time with them.
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:37 am

.. maybe Daley is trying to throw off his baby-daddy image ???

WoZ trying for the middle ground
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:18 pm

aaa
I find SAY WHAT? an only mildly annoying expression. Although I don’t partake of it myself and in my little world I don’t know anyone who does, I can understand how its catchiness does drive some to make use of it. And, in fact, it is used in some quite respectable circles.

For example, Science News runs a column titled Say What? in which it discusses new words in science (one word per issue):
<2012 “Tranquillityite \tran-KWIL-uh-tee-ite\, noun. A mineral first identified from rocks collected by Apollo 11 astronauts in the Sea of Tranquility on the moon. . . and geologists have now discovered the first occurrence of the mineral on earth . . . Made in part of silicon, zirconium, titanium and iron, tranquillite could be a widespread if rare mineral on earth, the scientists say.”—Science News, 14 January, page 4>

<2011 “jelly-fall \JELY-ee-fahl\ noun. A rain of dead jelly fish onto the seafloor, similar to a ‘whalefall’ of dead whales. In March, scientists in Norway photographed the bottom of a fjord north of Bergen; in five of 218 photographs the spotted corpses of Periphylla periphylla medusa jellyfish (alive, right). Shrimp swarmed the decomposing jellies, suggesting the bodies provide important nutrients in an otherwise sparse environment.”—Science News, 8 October, page 4>
I am of the opinion that the first article is the least unexciting of the two! (<:)

So, how long has Say What? been around. I’d say about 10 or 15 years, but I’d probably be wrong. The Dictionary of American Slang, a fine source, which is good on definitions and usage, but lousy on dates, says it has been around since the 1970s. Cassell’s, which is generally very good, provides a noncommittal ‘20th century.’ So, I’m guessing that no one knows for sure.

Here is the little I found:

DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN SLANG (3rd edition, 1995) by Robert L. Chapman

SAY WHAT interjection 1970’s black: A request for more information: excuse me? Sometimes with the sense of not believing what one has heard: Marvello put her apple down. ‘Say whuuut?’—Harry Crews
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CASSELL’S DICTIONARY OR SLANG (2nd edition, 2005) by Johathon Green

SAY WHAT? phrase (also says which? say which? [20th century and still in use] US: An expression of mock disbelief , e.g. what did you say? Are you telling the truth.
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This next dictionary isn’t good for much except for listing words and phrases and perhaps getting the spelling right. It is an abortion of the original work by Eric Partridge. They do include quotes, which are nice if they aren't misquoted. Believe what they say at your own risk. They may or may not be correct for any particular listing:

THE NEW PARTRIDGE DICTIONARY OF SLANG (2006)

1) UK (an Americanism): Used as a request to repeat what has just been said. <We’re off.’ The Hispanic detective with Asana looked over. ‘Say what?’ ‘We're off.’—L.A Requiem by Robert Crais, page 42-44, 1999.

2) US: Used for expressing disbelief in what has just been said.—UNC-CH Campus Slang by Connie Eble (Editor), page 5, Fall 1987.

[[Is there really this distinction between U.S. and U.K. usage? For the U.S. side, I think not. How about on the U.K. side? Any opinions on either?]]
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Ken – January 17, 2012
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Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:03 pm

aaa
Here’s a brand new word that’s easy to dislike at first sight.
<2012 “Swiss scientists at the Swiss Space Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) announced plans Wednesday to launch a “janitor satellite” to combat space junk and lower the risk of mid-space collisions. . . . the janitor satellite will have to “de-orbit” the defunct satellite (Swisscube would be first assignment – a suicide mission – and reenter the atmosphere.”—The State Column, 18 February>

Who knew that Switzerland had a space program? Sort of like Luxembourg fielding battleships. But anyway, I would classify DE-ORBIT as ugly but somewhat utilitarian. “Remove from orbit” is a more esthetically pleasing way of saying it, but requires three words rather than one. And in our world of sound bites a 2/3 savings is nothing to sneeze at.

With an estimated 16,000 pieces of space junk bigger than 10 cm in orbit and many millions of smaller pieces, some space experts warn that the risk of colliding with space debris would make it very dangerous for astronauts to travel into space in the near future.

So, to help all those hard-pressed newscasters and tweeters spit it out with ever greater speed and efficiency, we are blessed with the little jewel, DE-ORBIT! (>:)
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Ken – February 19, 2012
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