There are modern common turns of phrase in our language which drive me bananas. I cringe and want to punch myself in the face when I realise I’ve even said them myself. Somehow they morph into our language and general conversations. When used in news and TV media by broadcasters, interviewers, expert guests and especially those trained in PR and public speaking I get (even more) brain damage. Below are three of my current favourites:
These two little words seem to be an essential part of the training program for sports persons when they are interviewed. No sir, I do not know. That is why I asked you the question. ‘You know’ is used mostly to replace “umm” or as a sentence joiner. At best it is a response construction buffering measure used prior to delivering what usually ends up being a vacuous answer to the interviewer anyway. Have a closer listen the next time you hear sportspersons interviewed. With the AFL season upon us buckle up for the next “you know” tsunami. Academic types, if you are saying this on TV you should be ashamed of yourself.
Apart from being just damn ugly English, to put these two words together just doesn’t even make sense. Something is or it isn’t. Make up your mind. Be decisive. How the word ‘pretty’ even by definition fits into this kind of descriptive context (adjective) or as a degree of measure is just incorrect. Pretty much what? Does that mean 80% of what you are ascertaining? 99%? So are you sure or are you not so sure? Pretty good, pretty well, pretty stuffed. Is something “stuffed” also pretty? So it looks or is attractively “good” even though it is stuffed? Is pretty good better than good, or is it not quite good? It pretty much kills my tiny brain hearing ‘pretty much’ used in weather and traffic reports. No wait my brain is okay, or is it? Well it still looks pretty at least. AAGHHhrRRhrhghh!! What is wrong with just using the word “very”? Delete much completely.
Is a word I think you should never use. Very little is basic. You undermine yourself and your reader/listener using this word. When I hear intelligent individuals like scientists or artists interviewed and they use the word ‘basically’ I think it under sells their work. On the flip side of this, it can also be arrogant intellectually and snobby. It is highly presumptuous and condescending. At worst, it assumes your listener or reader hasn’t the time, capacity or ability to understand the complex nature of what you are the “expert” in.
Each of these are a reflection of a lack of conviction or confidence in what you have to say or describe. Please bin them immediately.