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A 'Most-Hated' List of Modern Phrases

Anger Yesterday on the Legal Writing Prof blog, Professor James "I am the scholarship dude" Levy flagged an interesting blog article from The New York Times on some of the words and phrases that are becoming despised in our society. The author of the article, law professor Stanley Fish, gets the ball rolling by offering up some examples from the "class of utterances that, when encountered, produces irritation, distress and, in some cases, the desire to kill." These include:

  • “To Be Continued” at the end of a TV show in which you have become invested;
  • “Closed for Private Party,” when you’ve been looking forward to a meal at your favorite restaurant all day;
  • “Register Closed,” when you’ve been waiting not-so-patiently behind a fellow customer with 25 items;
  • “This may hurt a little” when you know that pain on a massive scale is just around the corner; and
  • “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.”

Fish's article seems to have struck a chord with his readers judging by the over 1,100 comments (and counting) offering additional suggestions for this "most hated" list. Readers' suggestions include:

  • “This flight has been oversold;”
  • “No problem” (instead of “you're welcome”);
  • “You have committed a fatal error and your computer will shut down immediately;”
  • “We no longer accept cash;” 
  • “I’m sorry you feel that way;”
  • “In order to serve you better...;” 
  • “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”  (job interview);
  • “Would you like change?” (from waitstaff);
  • "Adjust, please." (in India);
  • “I can only apologize” (in the UK);
  • “inshallah (god willing).” (in the Middle East, meaning that no matter what the merchant has promised -- e.g., that your dry cleaning will be ready on Tuesday --it won’t be done, as "god willed it" that way.
  • "No offense, but…;” and
  • "It’s for your own security."

There are at least 40 more pages of reader suggestions that I did not get through, but you get the idea. Please add to the list in the comments below!

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 19, 2009 at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)


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