How often do you notice yourself saying the word ‘literally’? Well according to the Daily Telegraph readers, this word literally tops the list of phrases and sayings that cause annoyance among readers.
In fact, according to a response of 700 Daily Telegraph readers in an online poll, the words ‘basically’, ‘a safe pair of hands’ and ‘I’m gutted’ were preferred over the word ‘literally’. Of course, overused words like ‘basically’ and ‘upcoming’ made the list, as did the grammatically incorrect use of ‘shouldn’t of’ instead of ‘shouldn’t have’.
The readers were asked to respond to a top 10 of irritating expressions which have been compiled by researchers at Oxford University. Expressions which topped the University list included ‘at the end of the day’, which was followed in second place by the phrase ‘fairly unique’.
The statement, ‘I personally’ made third place. Phrases which made the list are highlighted in a new book which looks into jargon, poor grammar and meaningless expressions which are often found in modern speech. The book is known as ‘Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare’.
The list was compiled by researchers using the Oxford University Corpus database, which alerts them to new words and phrases by monitoring books, papers, magazines, television, and the internet. The database tells which words are being misused and it also identified expressions which are disappearing.
The author of the book Jeremy Butterfield, also a lexicographer, said that many over-used expressions are considered to be annoying. They actually started off as office lingo – such as 24/7 and synergy. He also said: ‘we grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism – and the same seems to happen with some language.’ During the survey, Daily Telegraph readers responded in the hundreds to express which words annoyed them.
Below is the Oxford University’s top ten most irritating phrases:
1. At the end of the day
Usually used before we say what we believe to be an important fact of a situation we are describing. In conclusion and when all is said and done have the same meaning.
2. Fairly unique
Here’s a classic example of an oxymoron – two words which seem to have an opposite meaning. Grammatically, this is incorrect. An object can either be unique, or not, but it cannot be fairly unique.
3. I personally
I and personally have the same meaning, after all, I is personal so there is no need to use the two together.
4. At this moment in time
Simply put, this expression means now or at the moment. This expression is used too much and is overblown.
5. With all due respect
This expression is used before something impolite is said, or before we disagree. Most people seem to dislike this phase because it makes it OK to be rude to someone when we use this expression first.
This adverb means very or completely. But most people tend to find it absolutely annoying when it is used to mean yes or I agree.
7. It’s a nightmare
This idiom means a very bad experience. But it is felt that people use this expression too much in spoken English.
8. Shouldn’t of
This expression is used to express regret about something we have, or haven’t done. It is also used to criticize the action of others. However, in the way that it is used here it is not good English. The correct expression is shouldn’t have.
This expression is used to refer to something that never stops. It is considered to be annoying because it is office jargon, not always true and the word always is deemed to be a better replacement for 24/7.
10. It’s not rocket science
This expression meaning it’s not difficult is disliked because it’s a cliché.