Watching the Real Housewives of wherever these days is getting to be a chore. Not because a fair number of them are morally repugnant individuals — although they are. But because so many of them, especially the real ex-wives of New York, seem to know how to push my buttons when it comes to linguistics. Watching that show is getting to be like forty-four minutes of listening to the sound of a chalkboard being scratched.
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All this, of course, got me to thinking about my biggest linguistic pet peeves. I have a few:
10. “So …” Lately I’ve noticed that many people begin any explanation with “so.” “So there are four courses at Bandon,” “So you have to get on the waiting list,” etc. Why “so” I do not know.
9. “The fact of the matter is …” And its closely-related cousin “(t)he fact is …” This is code for “I know all the facts, don’t bother disagreeing with me.” Me no likey people who argue like that.
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8. “I know, RIGHT …?” This one’s come out of nowhere in the last year or so. I’m waiting for the day when the listener says “wrong.”
7. “… I’m like …” Been around since the advent of Valley Girls. If you are a valley girl it’s okay. Otherwise, nadda.
6. “I’m in (fill in city, state, country) next week …” Somewhere in corporate America the present and future tenses got combined. When I learned how to speak English, that sentence was “I’ll be in (blank) next week.”
5. “It’s very/extremely special …” Listen for this the next time a PGA Tour professional answers a question about how it feels to, well, whatever. “How’s it feel to win in your home state? With your parents here? Etc. It’s always “special.” Someone’s gotta come up with a new pat answer.
4. “(M)yself” instead of “me.” Another one from the ranks of the professional athletes. Listen to how many of them use “myself” instead of “me” when referring to themselves, singular, in interviews. Very common among NBA and NFL players. Drives me bananas.
and the real houswives of anywhere provide a pretty steady stream of linguistic pet peeves.
3. “We’re pregnant.” Last time I checked, no man has ever been pregnant. How ’bout “my wife is pregnant — I got her that way”? Or “we’re expecting.”
2. The word “folks.” Like the aforementioned “I’m in …,” this one’s big in corporate America. Seems any collection of people, no matter how young, old, or familiar, is a “folks.” Drives me effin’ bananas.
1. “I WILL need you to return to your seat …” My all-time number one pet peeve, not just in linguistics, but period. (This new thing where males must half hug and shoulder bump when greeting one another, a la NBA players at midcourt, is running a close second.) This linguistic inefficiency, usually used in making a request, is apparently mandatory for flight attendants. Listen for it next time you fly. “I DO need you to fasten your seat belt,” etc. Drives me almost postal, I must admit.
Lest my reader think I am a complete curmudgeon, I am not. There are a few butcheries and modern-day wordplays I’m fond of. My grandpa used to say “who belongs to this?” instead of “who’s this belong to” — I kinda like that. Reese can’t quite get her “is” in the right place, as in “What tomorrow is?” and “Where Finn is?” And I gotta admit I kinda dig this “roll” thing, as in “that’s how I roll.”
Last I watched, none of the Real Housewives were rolling with any of my faves.
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