There has recently been a report concerning words that are disappearing from the language. The report occasioned some minor media excitement. I have a different take on this, namely words and phrases that ought to disappear from the language. There are two rich sources of irritating gibberish: the drivel emanating from the disembodied voices that plague the public transport system and commercial newspeak. Actually, there’s a third: the mangled and excluding governmentese (I think I just invented a word that ought to disappear from the language!) spewed out by the political and bureaucratic class. Okay, there’s a fourth: sporting commentary by clunking cliché. Here’s a list of verbal rubbish for banning in no particular order of dreadfulness:
How are you spelling that? I’m not yet. The genesis of this nonsense is the bizarre belief that to ask ‘how do you spell that?’ is excessively confrontational
I won’t be a second. True, you’ll be a lot longer than that. Taken literally, the statement is preposterous. It’s usually a fob off prior to a protracted wait.
You are? This means ‘what is your name?’ I don’t know quite why, but there’s something about ‘you are?’ that makes me want to smack the questioner in the face
I can only apologise. This translates as ‘we fouled up but we’re not going to do anything about it’.
Planned engineering works. Our first railway related horror. ‘Planned engineering works’ are a device to torment anyone having the temerity to actually want to travel anywhere by train or tube on a weekend to no discernible benefit. Actually, it’s more the activity than the phrase that I want banned.
Customer. It’s not so much the word I object to but its inappropriate use by public transport systems. When I go to the corner shop I am a customer; when I get on a train I am a passenger.
Your call is important to us. This piece of commercial hypocrisy is regularly churned out when you are waiting forever on some commercial enterprise’s automated system waiting to speak to an actual person. NO IT’S NOT!!! Just my money.
This train is formed of eight carriages. What’s wrong with ‘this train has eight carriages’
Literally – or rather the misuse of literally as in ‘I was literally over the moon’. You were? Impressive trick! Football people infamously tend to be over the moon when they are not being as sick as a parrot.
This is not original – it came from an article in the Observer by the splendidly named Carole Cadwalladr: wags, camel toe (she confesses she really wishes she didn’t know what that one meant) and Croydon facelift. I agree as regards the disappearance of wags being no loss to the language but the infantile vulgarian in me rather likes camel toe and I am similarly fond of Croydon facelift. I even like Croydon, a place much patronised in journalistic cliché by people who have never been there.
Otherwise, I am resisting the temptation to make up rumours about Conservative politicians even more scurrilous and unfounded than the Smeargate ones (to the extent that we may gather what they are). I may have to give in to temptation...