Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Lot of Modern Words I Hate, and a Few Modern Words I like

The ones I can't stand:

Go viral
Trend (as a verb)
LGBT etc.
Faith tradition
Motivated self-starter
Buy-in (as a noun)
Wow moment/wow factor
Optics (to mean appearance)
Skill set
The ..... experience, when used in mundane contexts, i.e., the user experience, the tourist experience, as opposed to more suitably grandiose contexts such as the Jewish experience or the female experience
Joined-up thinking
Face time
Link up
The Other

Why do I call this blog a blog when I hate the word? Because it would seem excessively affected not to do so. I'm not saying there's some kind of moral obligation to use words as they are generally used. I just mean that, in each case, one has to make a 'judgement call' (add that to the list) and I think 'blog' is just too established to be resisted.

My least favourite of that entirely list? No doubt whatever-- 'Comfortable' and 'uncomfortable'. "I'm not comfortable with using that term." "Share your story with us, if you're comfortable with that." It makes me squirm. It's hideously wishy-washy. I'm deeply uncomfortable with it.

Words I like:

Journey, in a metaphorical sense.
Conversation (as in, "we need a national conversation about this". My father ridicules the phrase as conjuring a picture of the entire nation sitting down to tea and a chat. But I rather like that picture.)

My favourite is definitely 'journey'. I get a little thrill whenever anybody uses this, from the author whose acknowledgements page thanks everybody who 'shared this journey with me', to the television presenter who talks about the journey of the fertilized egg to babyhood.

Oh, and I'd like to thank everybody who joined me on this journey through my favourite and least favourite modern words.


  1. Some more annoying terms/words: "methodology" (when, almost invariably, "method" would be the more appropriate word - in fact, plain old "method" is fast becoming obsolete); "concerns around" as in "I have concerns around unemployment/emigration/..." (what's wrong with "about"); "learning curve" - which is always steep, and everybody seems to be on one; "parking" used outside the context of automobile placement, as in "we'll park the issue of reorganisation for the moment"; "church" without the definite article, usually a danger signal, as in "we are church", "different ways of being church", etc...; "appraise", when "apprise" is meant, but it doesn't seem to occur the other way around; "fulsome praise", when something like "enthusiastic praise" is intended ("fulsome" has a very different connotation). Finally, the use of the noun "action" as a verb. On a more positive front, I like words that have fallen out of use. They are more likely to be noticed, are a refreshing change from the narrow cluster of contemporary verbiage, and as such to get a message across. Regards, Paul

  2. You struck a lot of chords with me there, Paul! I thought about including "church" without an article, but the fact that the Pope himself used it in his latest enyclical (at least, his English translators did!) made me hesitate. "Learning curve" is one of my particular bugbears. You're right, everybody is always on one! (So what defines it from any other state?) Fulsome in its true sense, I'm afraid, simply has to be given up on, and I'm rather pessimistic about the chances of 'disinterested' to survive as anything but a synonym of "uninterested." I haven't actually come across "action" as a verb, but doubtless it's only a matter of time....

  3. Of course, it was inevitable that my comment would be semi-literate....sigh.

  4. I've been compiling a list of these too - How about 'impact on' to mean 'affect' or 'have an impact on', 'ahead of' to mean 'before', and 'in terms of'? Wince!

    I agree with yours and Paul's as well. You've made me think differently about 'journey', though. I would have expected to be irritated by it, but perhaps that's because it is often used trivially, on reality T.V. and so on. But then perhaps they too are journeys in a way...

  5. "In terms of" is such a tempting phrase that it's one I have to deliberately steer clear of all the time, as is "in regard to".

    I suppose you could say the word 'journey' is overused and devalued, but really...I suppose I just find it such an exciting concept that I don't care how much it's used. Perhaps my fondness for the concept has overpowered my judgement here.