Sunday, 20 August 2006


Just a quickie while I wait for something to really aggravate me (of course I’m in a state of constant irritation at the moment but the cause hasn’t changed so I won’t bother you with it again).

I’m slapping people who say ‘Believe it or not...’ followed by something totally not incredible. ‘Believe it or not, being rich and healthy is better than being poor and sick.’ Erm, y-e-s! Pretentious is not the word (as they say in sly theatre reviews).

I also want to slap anyone who peppers their speech with ‘methinks’.

Feeling lazy today: please nominate your linguistic pet hates.

Update (21 August): re. being pretentious, I've already railed against French people using English words or expressions all over the place, even when, sometimes especially when there are perfectly good French equivalents (Parlez-vous English?); this time I'd like to slap English people who mistreat the French language in the same way. I have to single out someone called Linda Pilkington because she's in the news at the moment (well, the perfume news I read about elsewhere on the Net). Linda, whose other fragrances all bear extravagant (and to my ears unpleasant) names, has called her latest creation Orris Noir, thereby taking a leaf out of Miller Harris's book and mixing English and French words in the hope that those perfumes will sound more up-market than they are. They end up sounding silly instead.


  1. The reason people can't talk is that they don't read! Read this & weep!!!

  2. It's appalling and it's the same here; yet, judging by the recent A-Level results, young people are getting cleverer and better read, etc. by the minute. So why is it that employers and universities are complaining that 18-year-old kids can't string even a few words together, then?

    Any pompous phrases that make you see red?

  3. "methinks" -- bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    Oh -- quickie note to let you know I've changed my address from yellingfireinacrowdedtheater to triticumturgidum.


  4. Thanks for letting me know, K. Must go and amend my blogroll, grrr. You're one of those infuriating people who move all the time and make a mess of one's address book, aren't you? LOL!

    You do realize I have an intolerance to triticum turgidum. Re-LOL!

  5. Thank you.You gave me a much needed laugh today on "Believe It Or Not."

    Governments have spent Lots of money to find out things like this. As in: "Believe it or Not"-(Well almost)"Children who are generally better nourished and who's family can afford to give them a good, nutritious breakfast on a regular basis do better in school." Um...DUH ;-)

    I think they have done this particular survey every few years in the US. It probably only cost a million or two to find this information out. Money that could be put to good use actually helping impoverished children. :::Rips Hair Out::: ;-)

  6. And here I assumed Orris was a french term for the essential oil derived from the root...

  7. I've been looking everywhere for a reference to 'orris' in a French context. I can't find any. If you can show me that it is a French word, I will take some of it back. Not everything because she will have still giving a French name to an English perfume (could there be a more English name than Linda Pilkington?), but, then, Serge Lutens did call one of his scents Iris Silver Mist, so... :-)

  8. Well. This could be a long, long comment, but I'll try to restrain my rage.

    1: of/have. I could of gone, she should of, they might of, no no no, although phonetically identical 've is short for have and nothing to do with of which makes no sense. Grr.

    2 Apostrophes and the letter S. Possessive vs plural. Surely if you are the person in charge of writing and printing the posters for West Midlands Travel, you should have a basic knowledge of Enlish rules. This is quite an up to date irritation for me. I'm happy to forgive market traders and their "carrot's 50p" (not everyone has access to an education) but not when words are your job.

    3 At the end of the day. What? I go to bed at the end of the day. It is just too ubiquitous and lazy and boring. Any phrase with any emphasis is almost guaranteed to use these six words and it gnaws into my teeth.

    I could go on and on with this, I do like that language changes and develops, though.

    I'd probably really irritate you with my speech as I pepper it with words from several languages. Pourquoi? you ask. Parce que I can. That's how I think, really, in an erratic chaotic way. Comes over more pretentious (I assume) in written form than when I'm speaking.

    I hope I don't appear pretentious.

    I do, don't I, c'est awful ;-)

  9. "The fact of the matter is..."
    Please, please, please slap people who say "the fact of the matter is...", usually followed by some ridiculous bollocks.

    Useless, wasted breath that instantly make me think "it's probably not true." Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap.

    And I agree with jvs and "at the end of the day." Tooth-grindingly irritating.

  10. My dear Bela, Au fond, I don't have anything to add except that visiting your site is such a fun, tonic frisson. Many mercis, ma chere buddy. Hee.

  11. I suppose this is more a behavioral pet peeve than a linguistic one, but perhaps it merits a mention? The phrase "No offense, but...," drives me batty, because it's always followed by something that the speaker KNOWS is going to offend. They just say "no offense, but" as an annoying and ineffective way to cover their butts when the fall out they know will come down. "But I meant no offense!" Oh, do shutup.

    The one phrase that ticks me off on both a behavioral and a linguisitc level is the old hipster/wannabe hippie phrase, "It's all good." Usually this is spoken passive-aggressively after they've committed some egregiously assholisitc act, as if it absolves the speaker of any wrong doing. It does not. It's not ALL good. If things were ALL good we'd be living in a danm utopia already. God.

    People screwing up the phrase "intents and purposes" in both speech and the written word is not so much a pet peeve as something that makes me giggle. "Intense and purposes." Hee! I guess it could annoy, but even just typing that out makes me laugh. Hehehe.

  12. Okay I'll play :)
    People who misspell their own *names* on a Blog ;-)s Tinkerbell, not Tinkbell-Sorry.

    Things I do not want to hear:

    1. "Can I ask you a Very personal question?" I'm getting the willies already....

    2. "There's something I need to tell you and you're not going to like it?" I pause and the person says "So,do you want to know what it is?" Of course,I posititively can't wait.

    3.In reference to perfume-Old Lady, Granny, smells like Old Lady. Get a Dictionary and/or a Thesaurus. Better yet, try something other than a fruity-floral.

    4. One of my favorites. "I am a Brutally Honest Person, I ALWAYS The Truth." Do you now? And... What Is Truth? Sorry, but that statement always makes me feel a bit silly and philosophical ;-) Also, stay Far, Far,away from anyone who says this. It is short for "I am a mean-spirited witch and you are next on my list." ;-)

  13. Please pretend that I had pushed "Edit" instead of "Publish" while in Edit Mode. Then just insert the correct words that I ....didn't. Well, imperfection makes one more human, and thus approachable. Well, that's the best excuse I can come up with for now ;-)

    Sleepy, Imperfect T

  14. Hello Bela - I'm new here.

    Ditto jvs - 'at the end of the day. Shut up! At the end of the day - it's night - that is what I think when I overhear someone (usually a footballer I hasten to add) utter that irritating phrase.

    Also - people pointing and saying
    'here's a thing!' Aaaaaggh - don't know why but it makes me want to bend that little pointing finger back. It's so big-headed and coupled with the pointing makes it even more so.

    'It was awesome!' - when I hear that it just makes me want to be sick. It is such a lazy way of describing something properly if you had (a) the inclination and (b) the intelligence!

    Ooh I feel all cross now - and it's only 07:00 - got to go. Oh - one last thing - abbreviations. Maybe I'm too anally retentive but I can't bear abbreviations for everyday words or phrases like btw or when someone send you a text saying C U L8R. Drives me mad. Maybe I was made to spell too much at school?

  15. "To be honest with you..." Oh, good, so you're not lying to me THIS time.
    (Variants: "To be perfectly honest...", "To tell you the truth....")

    People who quote the Bible, Shakespeare, or any other famous source, in conversation (nearly always selectively, incorrectly, and/or out of context).

    People who cite statistics of any kind whatsoever, unless they are prepared to back it up with full disclosure of the source, validation, etc. Double backhand slap to those whose "statistics" come from the Internet.

  16. LOL -- wasn't trying to make you take it back. I just *assumed* it was a French word, but if you say it isn't, then I'm sure you're right.

    But should add that mixing French & English terms just doesn't get my goat, personally. I have plenty of pet peeves already so no need for me to add another.

  17. Et pourquoi pas un commentaire en français pour exprimer un avis d'outre Manche?
    L'utilisation abusive de certains anglicismes est, certes, a déplorer, mais il faut avouer que la langue française se perd parfois dans des des sentiers sinueux (et c'est bien là ce qui fait son charme) et sans fin (d'où la longueur de cette phrase), alors que l'anglais va plus souvent droit au but.
    Je me refuse à envoyer un "courriel"!!!

    A bientôt



  18. Tinkie, why don’t you register with Blogger? You don’t have to have a blog to do so and it’s quite painless. You wouldn’t have to write your name in every time you comment here (make sure you get it right first time, though. LOL! I’m teasing you. :-)

    There are so many obvious things governments pay millions to find out. Bah!

    All those phrases you mention, I find them creepy too. Anyone who’s contemplating saying any of them to me, please stay away! LOL!

    Your examples are pet peeves of mine too, JvS. English is an amazingly rich language (have you seen the difference in size between a French dictionary and an English one? The latter is usually around fifty per cent thicker than the former. I think they both deserve respect, man. LOL!

    I love the way you write, JvS. Don’t change a thing. I was talking about people who have no command of the language and use hackneyed or foreign phrases without really understanding their meanings. You can mix anything you like.

    Thanks for your contribution, Stef. :-)

    Laura, as long as you produce those absolutely wonderful drawings you can write franglais on my blog. You are eloquent in both media. Xoxo

    K, ‘no offense’ is like ‘with respect’ - *always* followed by something that means the opposite. Also, have you noticed how people react when you quote them: they always deny that what they wrote means what anyone can see it means. Drives me nuts too.

    I don’t hear ‘It’s all good,’ here much, but I know what you mean. Infuriating!

    ‘Intense and purposes’ – LOL! Malapropisms make me hoot with laughter. There’s an awful lot of that on the Net.

    Welcome to my blog, rockmother! All your examples will resonate with people here, I’m sure. :-) Texting? I don’t know from texting. LOL! My mobile phone has just died and I’m thinking about not replacing it. Anathema?

    Glad to meet someone else who cares about spelling.

    Oh, RQ, I committed the ‘to be honest with you’ crime myself very recently. I wasn’t lying: I was embarrassed because I couldn’t remember something that the other person needed to know about, so I said, ‘To be honest with you, I stopped listening after the first few seconds and I can’t remember, etc. etc….’ It doesn’t sound too good, I agree.

    Don’t get me started about misquotations. And statistics!

    NST, you are my guru in matters of perfume so I thought you might know whether ‘orris’ was in fact a French word. I was prepared to eat my words (blech!). It looks like it isn’t, after all.

    I know I’m too sensitive about language (spoken and written). Can’t help it. It doesn’t make my life easier. LOL! As you say, there are enough things to get het up about.

    Charlotte ?! C’est toi ? Comment ça va ? Et ta maman ? Ton anglais (pardon, néo-zélandais, LOL!) doit être super maintenant et voilà que tu écris ici en français ! Tu as raison, Le mot ‘courriel’ est une horreur ; mais ‘mail’ n’est beaucoup mieux. Je ponds des billets d’humeur sur le langage comme ça de temps en temps. Que veux-tu, je suis une puriste. Pure et dure, c’est ma devise. ;-)

    Bisous à toi et à Claudine (dis-lui de m’écrire).

    Sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, did you get all that? Didn’t mean to exclude you: that was my best friend’s daughter. :-)

  19. For the curious: Orris, according to the OED, is "an unexplained alteration of 'iris'" and first occurred in English in the mid-16th century. It has never been used to refer to the iris flower, only to the rhizome used by the apothecary and the perfumer. 'Iris' of course is Greek. I think we can safely give the English credit for 'orris'. hth!

  20. Thank you so much, RQ: I wasn't one hundred per cent sure. Now we know. Actually, of all the silly franglais names of perfumes I've grrr-ed about in the past, Orris Noir isn't the most awful, because 'orris' is quite close to 'iris' (in French especially, where the first 'i' is pronounced like the second one). :-)

  21. Can a Canadian join in the linguistic pet peeve discussion? Or am I too late? I'm new here too and to blogs generally but one of my big pet peeves is 110 per cent or 150 per cent or any per cent over 100. Mostly it seems people in sports commit this offence, though I've heard it from others too.

    I totally share the possessive vs. plural peeve too. The greengrocer's apostrophe actually makes me laugh/cringe but not using 's on proper, sinular nouns ending in s really gets my goat.

  22. Welcome to my blog, K. I was wondering who you were earlier. Anyone can join in, at any time. :-)

    Now that you've pointed it out, that per cent thing is going to bother me too. Not sure if I should thank you.

    I agree with your other peeves too.

  23. Oh - and using terror instead of terrorism. As in the war on terror. How stupid to declare war on a state of mind.

  24. That's people being lazy, isn't it, K? Using the effect in place of the cause. Still, it is annoying.

  25. Yes, I s'pose it is. I hadn't thought of it that way before. Guess I can't really blame other people for laziness when I'm so lazy myself; the ism is a bit of a challenging syllable. Still...

  26. I think I need to amend my peeve about the per cents because I was just reading an amusing South African blog ( and she used 3000%. Not only did it not annoy me; I chuckled. So perhaps it's ok if used sparingly and with extreme numbers.

  27. That's very funny - 3000%. :-)


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