Say What You Mean

IrishCostumeI’m about to rant about something I do all the time: violence against the English language.

At university I had to confess to my tutor (a world expert in linguistics), that I had no idea what a noun was.  Turns out it’s a Naming (and in my case, Shaming) word. In my defense, I’m Northern Irish, so a.) English is a second tongue and b.) my accent precludes the use of consonants. Where I come from, power shower = Parrrrrrarrrrrrrr Shaaaaaaarrrrr. Mirror = Murrrrrrrrr. And Brown Cow is a verbal impossibility.

But before you say it let me cut you off.

You can’t do an Irish accent. The people who said you could are LYING to you and are probably not even your friends.

Even if you Think you can, I don’t want to hear it. It is okay for me to make fun of my accent (in the same way as it is ok to me to make fun of my family), but if you do it I WILL FIND YOU.

Anyway. Language abuse. Here’s a few favourites:

  1. Going or being taken on a ‘Journey’.  A journey is the 3.45 from Manchester to Euston. Recording an album, entering a competition, being ‘made-over’… experience, yes.  Journey, no.  All the dried ice in Vegas will not change this.  (On a very small side note I have a horrible feeling the blurb of my book talks about a journey.  Sorry.)
  2. ‘Breath-taking’ eg; home improvements.  Are they? Are they?  Look me in the eye Kirsty and tell me that the wallpaper has literally caused you to stop breathing.
  3. ‘Undiscovered paradise’. Which is why I’m watching it on prime-time TV.
  4. ‘Ground-breaking’. Discovery of penicillin, tick.  Lipstick technology, not so much.
  5.  ‘Defining moment’.  You’ve had hundreds and you’re only sixteen.
  6. ‘Indescribable’. Followed by a description.
  7. ‘The game is all in the mind’.  Which is why they’re racing around after a football.
  8. ‘You haven’t seen the last of me’. Reality show evictee.
  9. ‘Slammed’ and ‘blasted’. Applies to doors and explosives – not MPs and policies.
  10. Love rat, love nest, sex romp. As in ‘Love Rat Steve took Blonde Stunna Back To Love Nest for Sex Romp’. I’m poring over every word – and I am Outraged, Disgusted and Offended.

What have I missed?

11 thoughts on “Say What You Mean

  1. Aww Emma loved this so much and agree with every sentiment including the make fun of my accent and suffer the consequences!!

  2. “Literally.” The over-use of this really irritates me. Like, it literally makes steam come out of my ears!


  3. The one that I have had to have therapy over is the word “like” – that is used as a meaningless punctuation mark by certain people. “So I said, like, ‘where are you going/’ and he said, like, I’m, like going home. So I’m standing there looking, like, stupid.”

    It doesn’t introduce any kind of simile whatsoever. So what is it like?

    Thomas De Zengotita has a good paper on this use of the word ‘like’ suggesting that it is highlighting the manner in which the words are said. The word ‘like’ is about the mode, intonation and choreography of the speaker’s performance of the sentence. So each “like” will be accompanied by a specific facial expression or tone of voice that is the enactment of the speech

  4. I’m not sure that De Zengotita’s explanation has helped me with the word ‘like’.

    Do you know what I mean, like?

  5. “No offence, but” — STOP right there. I’m clearly going to be offended.

    “Can I ask you a question?” You just did.

    “You could of left earlier.” You could HAVE turned up to your English class.

    “It fell off of the table.” No it didn’t. It fell off the table.

    A NI special: “Are use (YOU, PLURAL!!!) coming?” Not anymore, we’re not.

  6. What about “Lifetime Achievement Awards” for sportsmen/sportswomen in their early 30s?

  7. Hahahahaha – love this! My current favourite is “incredible” as in “Justin Timberlake’s incredible new album” as in “Justin Timberlake’s new album defies credibility.” Perhaps not quite the sentiment he was going for?

    I lived in Belfast for a year, and I love your accent. A power shower sounds richly satisfying in Northern Ireland and comparatively prosaic in England.

  8. These are literally brilliant. Incredible. No offense like, but initially I was indifferent to further suggestions. I was wrong. Every one of yous deserves a lifetime achievement for your fairly unique contributions. It’s been a journey.

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