Friday, October 9

The Friday Random Ten+5 would like to streamline your vocabulary just a bit.

While driving to Atlanta yesterday to spend the evening with the usual gang of miscreants, I heard a segment on NPR in which they talked about the word "whatever" being chosen as the most annoying term/phrase currently in use in the English language. I can see why people would be annoyed by it, but it doesn't really affect me that much. Probably because there are any number of other things that people say that drive me fucking crazy. "Like what?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. This week's +5 is Five Things People Say All The Time That Are Way More Annoying Than "Whatever" And Make Me Want To Punch Them.

"a myriad of"
Since this word has been misused by a multitude of people who should know better, from college professors to CNN analysts, let me state unequivocally, for the record: You can't have a myriad of anything. Myriad is not a collective noun like a gaggle of geese or a flock of seagulls. It's an adjective. If you want to talk about Barack Obama facing myriad issues overseas or your corporation being involved in myriad research projects, that's fine, but referring to "a myriad" only makes me want to stab you. A lot of times.

"outside the box," "paradigm," "modalities," and all those other meaningless bullshit corporate words
I know I'm not revealing any deep, dark secrets by pointing out that the use of terms like "thinking outside the box" or "paradigm" or whatever basically signifies someone as a brain-dead corporate douchebag who's using utterly meaningless phrases to paper over the fact that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. But it's not just corporate America anymore; this type of crap is trickling down to academia as well. I can't tell you how many times I, in my work at UAB, came across some researcher or physician who liked to talk about the new "modalities" of this, that, or the other thing he was working on. And I wanted to just stop them short and tell them, "Look, you're a top-level biomedical researcher. You have a doctorate degree. I already know you're smart; you don't have to whip out those bullshit words on me." I have never, ever come across an instance in which "modality" was used where "technique," "method," or even just a simple "way" would be perfectly acceptable. So cool it with the ten-dollar words, Lumbergh; you're not getting your money's worth.

This is one of many words that has been bandied about by everyone from panicky TV-news shows to NPR over the last year despite there being nary a shred of tangible evidence that any of the teenagers in question actually use it. Not that I'm somehow deeply in tune with current high-school lingo, but a 16-year-old guy is never going to say something like, "Dude, Jane just sexted me." He'd just say, "Hold on, I got a text from Jane, I'll be right back," leave, and rejoin his friends 15 or 20 minutes later with a big shit-eating grin and Jane's stank all over him. At least, that's how I usually handle it.

"gay agenda"
As much as broadening acceptance of homosexuality has stricken some of the really brainless, paranoid terminology out of even the radical right wing's lexicon of scare words, you still see this one tossed out there from time to time. Look, as a straight guy I realize I can only have so much insight into the gay lifestyle, but at any given time since my sophomore year of college or so, 1/4 to 1/2 of my friends have probably been gay or at least a little bi-curious, and not one of them ever had a copy of the "gay agenda" sitting around their houses. And believe me, if they did, I'd have found it: Anytime I go to someone's house for the first time, I pretty much go through that place with a fine-toothed comb. At the homes of my gay friends, I've found dozens of different varieties of hair product, equally numerous brands of self-tanner, copies of The Advocate, several cock rings, and a seven-disc special edition of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" with 18 hours of additional footage and commentary, but never anything that looked like a "gay agenda." And if they were really going to infiltrate our schools and sell gayness to our kids, doesn't it seem like they'd need to have something like that, just to make sure everything's on the same page? (Not that you need to sell the "gay lifestyle," anyway. Terrific skin, superior fashion sense, and all the appletinis you can drink? That shit sells itself, son.)

"Totes," "natch," "ridic," or any of those other arbitrarily shortened words
If Paul Rudd's almost painfully awkward character in "I Love You, Man," didn't make it clear, let me do so myself: Guys don't shorten words like this. Hell, adults shouldn't shorten words like this. If your day is so overscheduled that you can't even spit out a couple extra syllables, it's time to sit down with a calendar and really start examining some of your time commitments. That weekly scrapbooking group you've been going to? Might be time to let it go, friend.

Got a problem with that list? Whatever, dude. Now, the Ten:

1. David Holmes, "Drexler's Apt -- Aftermath, Afternoon"
2. Orbital, "Acid Pants" (JDS mix)
3. Sting, "We'll Be Together"
4. Orbital, "Way Out"
5. U2, "Running to Stand Still"
6. Prodigy, "Everybody Is in the Place"
7. Underworld, "Born Slippy/.NUXX" (live)
8. Thom Yorke, "Cymbal Rush"
9. Rinôçérôse, "La Guitaristic House Organisation"
10. A Tribe Called Quest, "Scenario" (remix)

Your turn, English nerds: your most hated terms and phrases in the comments along with your Random Tens, plz kthxbai.


ACG said...

"Utilize." You mean "use," right? That's the word you would use if you weren't trying to sound all smart? Wait, I'm sorry, it's the word you would utilize?

Love love the illustration for number 5. And I will add to that "'rents" and "vacay"--the day I saw that word used in Cosmo was the day I stopped reading Cosmo. And, coincidentally, the day I turned 19. But whatevs.

And can I also throw in a hate for any use of "LOL"? Capitals, lowercase, doesn't matter--and if you're putting it after your own comment, that makes it worse. If you have to tell people you're funny you probably aren't lol.

(And to close: In high school, I had a friend who shortened just about everything a la "vacay." One day at lunch time, she declared that she was "totes hung," and then she couldn't understand why we couldn't stop laughing.)

Kirk said...

Myriad's original usage was as a noun until the 19th century when it began being used as an adjective in poetry. Both are considered correct. Every edition of the dictionary that I have confirms this.

Ollllddude said...

I have a myriad of issues with your objection to the existence of the gay agenda and the modality in which you display your bias by only including hetero activity in your sexting example. This post is totes ridic.

Hawkeye State said...

Um, Doug? Merriam-Webster (and Thoreau, for that matter) would like to have a word with you...

Josh M. said...

Ah, you were so close - but you didn't catch it. The seven-disc special edition of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is the gay agenda.

opsomath said...

Myriad is a number. If you have a question about its use, substitute it with "dozen" and see if it still makes sense.

opsomath said...

I would just like to extend my condolences, Doug, on being the significant other of a Vol in this grim hour.