After work last week Thursday, I sat down at home to read the local newspaper. Why I do this every week I do not know, as the countless adverts for camping equipment and chicken leg specials are irrelevant to me. In my day job, I read. And read. I edit reports and then I get annoyed with arbitrary punctuation and capital letters. I have said to my staff they can call me Captain No Capital Letters from now on and they have threatened to rebel and send me a report to sign-off in caps with senseless words in bold and in random colours. I shudder at the thought.
On this fine late afternoon, it started with the front page of the newspaper. Two local suburb names were spelt incorrectly in a large orange font front page advert, plus the word “and” was followed by “&”. I thought this may be an advertising ploy and looked for an article explaining that the error was done purposefully. There was no such explanation. Further on in the newspaper, I encountered grammar errors. With every error, I squealed in horror, causing husband (he deserves a capital “H“) to take the newspaper away from me, saying that he was now in as much pain as I was but his agony was from listening to me! We have now agreed: no more local newspapers for me.
Driving to work in the morning, I ration myself to a few moments of talk radio, and possibly a mainstream radio station. No matter the station, the word “accordingly” sneaks in when presenters speak or callers phone in. I have noticed that it is used in a similar way as one would use a full stop. It is merrily added to the end of a sentence to perhaps complete it or to give the sentence a sense of gravitas. If the word is deleted, the sentence is not altered in any way except it is shorter.
Listening occasionally to the news on the radio, I notice how people say things without saying anything, such as “I wish to apologise” and “I wish to thank you”. So go ahead and say “sorry” or “thank you”. Wishing it is not the same as saying it.
What is it with extending words to make them appear fancy? My bugbear on this is the word “documentation”. Why not say “documents”? Similarly, the word “utilisation” or worse, “utilization” is used when “use” is a perfect alternative. I also beg all those people who phone in to a talk radio station to please stop saying “etcetera etcetera etcetera”. One etcetera is enough and does the job. I also long for the day when people answer a question with a “yes” instead of “100 percent”. That breeds all sorts of oddities, such as those who believe that “100 percent” is not enough and they say “110 percent”. So it goes on.
I also wonder why it is necessary to end a letter or a note with “your co-operation is greatly appreciated” and sometimes the words “in advance” or “in anticipation” are added. What an odd thing to do. Surely the tone of the correspondence should encourage people to co-operate and not a silly line at the end of a harshly worded letter or note. I am also not sure how to thank someone in advance or in anticipation. Does that mean you can also apologise in advance or in anticipation? I hope not, otherwise things have reached a very drastic stage of desperation.
Have you noticed how when you are asked to produce a form of identification, it must be “positive identification”? I know that I look grim in my drivers’ licence photograph (aka cartoon) and worse still in my ID book, but that is as positive as I could get since I was not allowed to smile in either photograph. Does this mean it is “negative identification”? All we need to be told is to bring proof of our identity. It is that simple. Do not get me started on “valid positive identification”…
Of course politicians are a treasure trove or rich source of verbose language use. For years, we have been hearing how they “categorically” deny this or that. I always wonder why the denial (which realistically will always be the case) cannot be a denial, all on its own? A few years ago, I heard government members say they would tackle the “low hanging fruit” first when it came to implementing a new law. Such a statement assumes that there is a healthy tree, that there is fruit on the bottom branches of the tree and that it is ripe for picking. In the middle of a devastating drought, I wonder what fruit the government is picking now, if at all (corruption excluded).
Another favourite is to use the phrase “take it offline” when in a meeting and a matter cannot be discussed in front of others who are at the meeting, leaving such persons in a state of flux for the rest of the meeting wondering why something needs the veil of confidentiality and whether they were awake enough to be online. Whilst pondering this, a death by PowerPoint moment is sure to arise and no doubt, the presenter will boldly proclaim how she or he will take something “forward”. Whatever happened to “next steps”? So clear and simple. Perhaps taking something “forward” acknowledges that things have often gone backwards when under that person’s command?
I have to restrain myself from typing further. I could go on about saying one is “waiting on” something, “awaiting” feedback, “actioning” something or “keeping a watching brief” on a development, or that “one will be liable for prosecution” if they look at a security guard with half an eye, or refer to a “telephonic conversation” but in the end, I am going to burst a leg spider vein, get red eyes and a headache, and get as irritated as I do when I see a Nissan Juke, whilst the world “moves forward in a positive direction utilizing the off-grid learnings of the millennials who show signs of work-place engagement during times of stress points and all the while considering their cellphonic interactions”.