LilaTovCocktail: Ingredients: one part NE Ohio; two parts politics; two parts media, and one part each: culture, family & the Jewish community. Directions: Shake well.

Oxford U. researchers give us their top 10 irritating expressions. What are yours?

11/7/08

It's been a nightmare, but Oxford University researchers, working 24/7, have put together a fairly unique list of the top 10 most irritating phrases. It isn't rocket science, but at the end of the day, this list is, I personally believe, the best one available at this moment in time, absolutely!
Oxford researchers have compiled a new list of most irritating phrases (the paragraph above contains numbers 7, 9, 2, 10, 3, 4, & 6. Makes for some fine writing, doesn't it?)

Researchers use a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which is comprised of books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources. "The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused," The Guardian says.

Here they are, the top ten most irritating phrases*:

1. At the end of the day
2. Fairly unique
3. I personally
4. At this moment in time
5. With all due respect
6. Absolutely
7. It's a nightmare
8. Shouldn't of
9. 24/7
10. It's not rocket science

How do you measure "irritating"?



I couldn't find any information about the criteria for the list. What makes a phrase irritating? he frequency of its use? Its grammatical incorrectness?

And how do you decide that one phrase is more irritating than another?

Is redundancy ("I personally") worse than hyperbole ("It's a nightmare")?
Is the phrase "it's not rocket science" more irritating than the synonymous but unlisted phrase "it's not brain surgery"? If so, why?

Speaking of rocket science, I had a friend who was a professor of jet propulsion engineering. She liked to say, "But what do I know? It's not like I'm a rocket scientist -- oh wait, I AM a rocket scientist!"

What's missing from the list, in your opinion?

Which phrases do you find most irritating? My list would include:
1. Could care less
2. doing due diligence
3. Work smarter, not harder
And, after the last presidential debate,
4. "My friends"

*This list appear in a book by Jeremy Butterfield called Damp Squid (title comes from the confusion of "squid" with "squib," a type of firework).

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2 comments:

David H. November 9, 2008 at 6:38 PM  

To these, Lila, I would add: "toxic," "tsunami," "meltdown," "going forward" and "Wall Street," especially when paired with "Main Street." I do think we've heard the last of "maverick" for a while.

LilaTovCocktail November 9, 2008 at 10:14 PM  

Those are all good, David.
Tsunami esp. to describe a financial disaster has to go.
"Outside the box" seems likes it's already so last-year that it doesn't need to be only the list.
Although perhaps "so last-year" does.

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