February 5, 2007

Would You Rather?

Today’s “Would You Rather” is a simple language grab bag. The celestial lexicographer has decided to eliminate a number of phrases from common usage. She’s arranged them into two groups for reasons beyond your understanding. She has the power to make either of the groups just disappear from common usage — people won’t say them anymore. It’s up to you to help her decide which “package” goes. She is definitely eliminating one or the other. Some of these phrases may annoy you, some may be valuable to you, and maybe some you’ve never heard. But you have to choose.

  • Package 1
    • “baby daddy”
    • “thinking out of the box”
    • “utilize”
    • “ek-specially” (mispronunciation of “especially”)
    • “nukular”
    • “proactive”
  • Package 2
    • “in a post 9/11 world…”
    • “value-added”
    • The Long Tail
    • “irregardless”
    • “it’s about…” (As in “it’s not about x, it’s about y”)
    • “my bad”

Which group of phrases would you rather eliminate? And why?

Posted by James at February 5, 2007 11:42 AM
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As much as I'd like to get rid of nukular and ekspecially the group with my all time most annoying word has to go. Irregardless is not a word (at least it wasn't until a lot of boneheads started misusing it) and even if it was it wouldn't mean what you think it means. It would be a double negative and therefore would mean with regard! Grrrr...

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at February 5, 2007 12:21 PM

Package 2. And only because of bullet one.

Posted by: Derek at February 5, 2007 12:51 PM

My first reaction was #1 because the things on that list annoy me more often. However, it's the things in #2 that annoy me more deeply. (Around here, it's not so much the "The Long Tail" as "Flat Earth" but it's on the same idea.)

I wish I could get rid of both. And I'd like to add "at the end of the day" to whichever list the celestial lexicographer picks.

Posted by: Julie at February 5, 2007 12:58 PM

Package 2. There's nothing there I would want to save for any reason.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at February 5, 2007 12:59 PM

Unfortunately, if you lose either of these packages, the same people who use these phrases are going to come up with new phrases that annoy. *They* aren't going away.

But since I have to vote, I'll vote for package 2. I know some very intelligent people who say "irregardless," irregardless, it's not a word. ;-) And "it's about" is really lazy and obnoxious. "My bad" has overstayed its welcome, and as Derek points out, "in a post 9/11 world" is the worst of all. At least people will be forced to think about what they actually mean and say it aloud instead of using that phrase, when package 2 is gone. I think when a phrase like that becomes common, the idea becomes more accepted, even when it's long past being acceptable.

Posted by: Maggie at February 5, 2007 2:32 PM

Package 2, please.

I would be glad to see the back of "in a post-9/11 world" as it is usually the preamble to an excuse for bad behavior (as in taking away one or more rights).

Value-added reminds me of "free gift," to which I repeat what is said in my American Heritage Book of English Usage: What kind of gift isn't free?

If you could throw in asterick, I'd be over the moon.

Posted by: Patti M. at February 5, 2007 2:52 PM

I'm torn on this one. The whole "pre 9/11 thinking" and "post 9/11 world" stuff drives me bonkers. That's because it is usually said while someone is explaining why they need to deprive you of your rights.

On the other hand "irregardless" is fun to use in torturing Chuck. ;-)

I suppose I could always find other ways to annoy. I dislike more of the entries in the first group, but none nearly as much as the 9/11 one. Group 2.

Posted by: briwei at February 5, 2007 3:17 PM

Can we kill ek cetera too?

Patti - I believe it's ax-terick

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at February 5, 2007 3:47 PM

How about Asterix.

Posted by: James at February 5, 2007 4:01 PM

Package 2. I've noticed that people rarely apologize anymore. At the most, they say "Oops, my bad." I'd like to eliminate that phrase and make everybody start all over again, looking for a non-apology phrase.

Posted by: pam at February 6, 2007 12:01 AM

The only two items here that I actually hear people say on a regular basis that I really don't like are "nukular" and "irregardless". Neither of which are words and each of which I despise equally.

But if I have to choose, I guess I'll choose #1--the president of the united states of america really ought to be able to say nuclear, and besides I don't want to kill off "my bad". I don't think of this as a non-apology, but rather a modern day "mea culpa" and I usually hear it in accompaniment of an apology as opposed to instead of an apology.

Posted by: Chuck S. at February 6, 2007 7:04 AM

And Chuck saves my "Would You Rather" from near failure by at least validating Package 1. Thank you!

This one is a tough choice for me, because I hate "thinking out of the box" which is a variant on another phrase I don't like: "thinking outside the box." Isn't "creative thinking" descriptive enough? It's not that I object to the idea of thinking outside the box, it's how NOT creative the overuse of "thinking out of the box" is. A cliche' to describe creativity is too much irony for my little brain to handle.

Of course, I also hate "post 9-11 world." But the other items in package 2 don't bug me too much.

I seem to hear "baby daddy" altogether too much. I prefer the term "sperm donor."

"Utilize" is far over-utilized. Especially by people who think it makes them sound smarter than using "use."

Ryan thinks we can do our part to stop all these phrases. You don't need to think out of the box to realize we should be proactive and not utilize these value-added phrases. Irregardless, you'll invariably screw up; you can always say "my bad." It's not about punishing people, it's about avoiding stale discourse. In this post 9-11 world it is ekspecially important that we not go nukular on people.

Posted by: James at February 6, 2007 8:25 AM

LOL! Way to touch 'em all, James!

Posted by: briwei at February 6, 2007 5:47 PM

I missed "The Long Tail" and "baby daddy."

They just didn't fit. :)

Posted by: James at February 6, 2007 5:55 PM

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