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Oh my Gawd! - Totally unOfficial Pet Peeve Thread.


Sassy Kenin

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8 minutes ago, Rowan Amore said:

Oh and it's, "I wish I were..." and not, "I wish I was...".

Advanced Grammar class, senior year...loved it.

Subjunctives have never been popular in common speech. Even when people are aware that they exist, they don't know what to do with them.  My mother once overheard a conversation in which a woman explained to her friend, "Well, if I had of knowed, I would of went."  She sort of got the idea but mangled the message in trying to execute it.

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13 minutes ago, Rolig Loon said:

Subjunctives have never been popular in common speech. Even when people are aware that they exist, they don't know what to do with them.  My mother once overheard a conversation in which a woman explained to her friend, "Well, if I had of knowed, I would of went."  She sort of got the idea but mangled the message in trying to execute it.

I do dangle prepositions more often than I care to.  😆😉

Edited by Rowan Amore
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23 minutes ago, Rolig Loon said:

Yup.  🙄

It is, indeed. Every language seems to need such things (alors, ja visst, genau .....).  They announce that the person is about to say something, thus reserving the communication channel during the final second or so before the speaker figures out exactly what she is going to say.

My parents were highly theatrical, and taught me the value of measured words and the power of silence. My personal experience is that those who rush to fill the void with announcements of an upcoming thought generally fail to deliver.

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Customer: "Can I get a cup of coffee?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

*awkward moment of silence and shop assistant keeps smiling*

Customer (impatient): "Well? Where is it?"

Shop assistant: "Where is what?"

Customer: "My cup of coffee. I just asked you for coffee."

Shop assistant: "No you didn't. You asked me if you could get a cup of coffee."

Customer: "So can I get one?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

;)

Moral: Always use the correct grammar. Or use grandpa if she's unavailable.

 

 

Edited by SarahKB7 Koskinen
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21 minutes ago, SarahKB7 Koskinen said:

Customer: "Can I get a cup of coffee?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

*awkward moment of silence and shop assistant keeps smiling*

Customer (impatient): "Well? Where is it?"

Shop assistant: "Where is what?"

Customer: "My cup of coffee. I just asked you for coffee."

Shop assistant: "No you didn't. You asked me if you could get a cup of coffee."

Customer: "So can I get one?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

;)

Moral: Always use the correct grammar. Or use grandpa if she's unavailable.

 

 

Sorry, but if a server did that to me, I'd be calling the manager. I'm not even that kind of person since I was a waitress for 3 years.

But that? Before my coffee? Before my coffee?!?

Lawd....

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2 hours ago, Rowan Amore said:

Kind of the difference between Can I? And May I?   Had a teacher in grade school that would only answer if you said, " May I go to the restroom?" And never to, "Can I go to the restroom?"

Every time someone is not asking me permission for something my response to "can I?" is always, "Do you know how?" or "Don't you know how?"

Can I go to the restroom?

What? You don't know how to go? (Didn't your mother teach you? I hope you've been buying Depends if not.)

😇

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1 hour ago, SarahKB7 Koskinen said:

Customer: "Can I get a cup of coffee?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

*awkward moment of silence and shop assistant keeps smiling*

Customer (impatient): "Well? Where is it?"

Shop assistant: "Where is what?"

Customer: "My cup of coffee. I just asked you for coffee."

Shop assistant: "No you didn't. You asked me if you could get a cup of coffee."

Customer: "So can I get one?"

Shop assistant: "Yes, you can."

;)

Moral: Always use the correct grammar. Or use grandpa if she's unavailable.

 

 

The second time she said yes I can I would have gotten up and gotten my own coffee. Which is probably what I was asking in the first place since most "real" family type restaurants (mon n pop) allow self serve coffee. Diners not so much since they don't really want customers behind the counter. Other places usually have a "coffee station" for use by both waitresses and/or customers. 

 

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I think too often we forget that language is contextual. There's an enormous difference between the kind of language and usage that is appropriate in formal writing, for instance, and that which we might expect to hear in a social media post, yet alone in an oral conversation.

Discourse markers -- words and phrases such as "like" or "um" or "I mean" -- may not serve a grammatical function, but they do serve other purposes: giving us time to think, but also signalling something about the nature of the communication.

And they are also, in that sense, rhetorical tools. In IMs and DMs and other informal textual conversations, I will often very deliberately begin a sentence with "Well, . . ." -- not because I need filler or time, but as a way of signalling the kind of communication in which I'm engaged, as well as my attitude towards my subject and my auditor. It's a way of replicating the sound and rhythm of informal discourse in a written form. It's a tool -- a feature, not a bug, so to speak.

Also, a great many of the grammatical sticking points that people get hung up on are really pretty fatuous. We aren't supposed to end sentences with prepositions, for instance, because Latin doesn't, and some idiot pedant in the 18th century decided that English should be more like Latin. As for the subjunctive, I use it more often than not because it was drilled into my head, but it's been disappearing from the language for literally centuries: it's a relic, and serves no useful purpose.

I mean . . . language is supposed to communicate, right? And part of what it communicates (notice my use of a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence OMG!!) is how I feel about the subject and, you know, the person I'm chatting with.

Sorry, "with whom I am chatting."

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
And then there are the mistakes we make from not proofreading . . .
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@Scylla Rhiadra is quite right that the style of language we use depends on context. Insisting on perfect grammar is fine if you are preparing legal briefs or addressing the queen, but it can make us sound stilted at the corner grocery store. Half of communication is fitting language to audience.  We make fun of pedants because they don't seem to have figured that out.

It's true that language evolves, sometimes quite rapidly, and that the biggest changes usually take place around the edges of a linguistic community, where people from different cultural contexts are thrown together.  Using "language evolves" as an excuse for ignoring how its formal structure works, though, is a mistake. I am not at all convinced that the subjunctive is a relic that serves no useful purpose, as Scylla suggests, but it's easy to see that it's fading from common speech. However, as long as it has value in formal language, where a critical nuance can shape meaning , pedants are right to remind us to use it correctly.  That's the way I feel about split infinitives, dangling participles, and all sorts of rules we were taught in school. There is a place for precision; those who know their way around the rules can use them to their advantage when it counts. 

Aside from all that, my reason for focusing on proper language is that it is such fun to play with. My life would be much less interesting without word puzzles, the joy of malapropisms, and the unexpected delights of poetic metaphors.  Most of those fall flat if you don't have any idea how a language works. I just finished re-reading one of P.G. Wodehouse's novels, loving the way he contrasted Jeeves's pedantic style with the upper-class twit language of Bertie Wooster. Half the fun of reading it is discovering how Wodehouse could break the rules deliberately to poke fun at class structure.

My peeve, then, is not that some people don't use language "correctly"; it's that they don't seem to know or care whether they do.

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1 hour ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Discourse markers -- words and phrases such as "like" or "um" or "I mean" -- may not serve a grammatical function, but they do serve other purposes: giving us time to think, but also signalling something about the nature of the communication.

I'm a voracious consumer of radio interview shows like Terri Gross' "Fresh Air". I don't think I can cite an example of "like" or "um" or "I mean" working well. If they were giving the utterer time to think, they didn't give enough. I might be predisposed to dislike those phrases, but it really seems to me that the most intellectually stimulating conversationalists don't use them. Have you listened to, or participated in, a conversation in which all parties were comfortable with silence? I don't mind the use of "mmm", "hmmm", "mmmhmm" and the like to indicate that something has been heard. That's often necessary to allow for the silence that might precede some thought. There's really no reason to use "like" or "I mean" other than habit, perhaps born of impatience or greed.

I recently listened to a marvelous interview with a rapper. He was absolutely unafraid to go quiet while contemplating answers which, when they arrived, were literally musical. He meowed and growled and swooned. You felt like he was reaching across the table to engage the interviewer, with no hurry to get wherever they were going. I don't think there was a filler word in the entire interview.

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37 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

I don't think I can cite an example of "like" or "um" or "I mean" working well. If they were giving the utterer time to think, they didn't give enough. I might be predisposed to dislike those phrases, but it really seems to me that the most intellectually stimulating conversationalists don't use them.

Janet Yellen did an interview on NPR yesterday that was hard to listen to, because it was so full of ummm.....  She's a brilliant woman, but not a conversationalist.

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2 hours ago, Rowan Amore said:

and i am peeved with you cause you didn't!

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On 11/17/2021 at 8:22 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

I'm a voracious consumer of radio interview shows like Terri Gross' "Fresh Air". I don't think I can cite an example of "like" or "um" or "I mean" working well. If they were giving the utterer time to think, they didn't give enough. I might be predisposed to dislike those phrases, but it really seems to me that the most intellectually stimulating conversationalists don't use them. Have you listened to, or participated in, a conversation in which all parties were comfortable with silence? I don't mind the use of "mmm", "hmmm", "mmmhmm" and the like to indicate that something has been heard. That's often necessary to allow for the silence that might precede some thought. There's really no reason to use "like" or "I mean" other than habit, perhaps born of impatience or greed.

I recently listened to a marvelous interview with a rapper. He was absolutely unafraid to go quiet while contemplating answers which, when they arrived, were literally musical. He meowed and growled and swooned. You felt like he was reaching across the table to engage the interviewer, with no hurry to get wherever they were going. I don't think there was a filler word in the entire interview.

What you are describing hypothetically in your first case, it seems to me, is a straight-forward case of someone who is not very accomplished at articulating their thoughts and ideas on the fly. Or, perhaps more importantly, someone who is not adjusting their delivery to the medium (in this instance, a radio show). Note that in such an instance phrases such as "like" and "um" or "I mean" are still meaningful markers -- it's just that in this context they are marking that this someone is not a very competent oral communicator.

I am, generally, pretty conscious of assuming different "voices" in different contexts, in both SL and RL. There are of course occasions when my spoken language needs to be fairly formal and "correct" . . . and so I ensure that it is. But in a great many communications, including lectures, I will adopt colloquialisms in order to break down the barrier between myself and my auditors. I find that speaking less formally, for instance, encourages discussion in class.

In informal textual communications -- right now, for instance, as I'm typing this -- I often "hear" myself speak what I want to say, and my language replicates that, including all or most of the mannerisms that mark it as oral. And so I do use discourse markers -- deliberately, if not always consciously in the moment. For instance, "um" is a marker that signifies a scepticism about something someone has said:

"Um. I don't think that's quite what she meant."

"Well," which (you of all people must have noticed) I use a lot, signifies that I am specifically responding to something someone has said, and adding a qualifier or minor disagreement:

"Well, that may be mostly true, but . . ."

I did a very quick search through our conversation on Discord, and found more than a few instance of my use of "I mean." Here's an actual instance:

"Is doing all this stuff really a wise idea? I mean, I'm sure you know what you're doing and all (coughs) but . . ."

These phrases, as I use them, are "unnecessary," strictly speaking -- I'm not really in need of more time to think about what I'm saying. I use "I mean" here because it signifies something about the informal nature of our chat, and also, in this instance anyway, a certain degree of (again) scepticism. (I seem to be very good at being sceptical.)

They also, I think, "colour" my chat: you can think of them as sorts of verbal signature. I suspect that I have a reasonably recognizable chat style (as I imagine others here have noticed as well). Like the way I habitually say goodbye in IMs:

"Byeeeeeeee!"

There is no word or phrase that is intrinsically good or bad. They are tools that are used well, or misapplied. But they are always "meaningful," even if that meaning doesn't necessarily redound to the credit of the person using them.

 

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I see your point, @Scylla Rhiadra. I agree that there are times when "I mean" is justified.  You provided one:

1 hour ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

"Is doing all this stuff really a wise idea? I mean, I'm sure you know what you're doing and all (coughs) but . . ."

In that situation, "I mean" is not only a comfortable filler, it actually adds a smidgen of clarification.  What you are saying is:

"Is doing all this stuff really a wise idea? What I'm really asking is, I'm sure you know what you're doing and all (coughs) but . . ."

If you recall, my peeve was , "The phrase "I mean" is supposed to suggest that [people who use it to start a sentence] are about to clarify something that they have already said before, but people are not clarifying anything." My peeve still stands in the general case, because in my experience most people are in fact just using the phrase as nonsense filler. Your example illustrates a rare case in which the opposite is true.  I mean, it's a softer, less confrontational way of reinforcing the question that you opened with. Thank you.

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2 hours ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

What you are describing hypothetically in your first case, it seems to me, is a straight-forward case of someone who is not very accomplished at articulating their thoughts and ideas on the fly. Or, perhaps more importantly, someone who is not adjusting their delivery to the medium (in this instance, a radio show). Note that in such an instance phrases such as "like" and "um" or "I mean" are still meaningful markers -- it's just that in this context they are marking that this someone is not a very competent oral communicator.

I am, generally, pretty conscious of assuming different "voices" in different contexts, in both SL and RL. There are of course occasions when my spoken language needs to be fairly formal and "correct" . . . and so I ensure that it is. But in a great many communications, including lectures, I will adopt colloquialisms in order to break down the barrier between myself and my auditors. I find that speaking less formally, for instance, encourages discussion in class.

In informal textual communications -- right now, for instance, as I'm typing this -- I often "hear" myself speak what I want to say, and my language replicates that, including all or most of the mannerisms that mark it as oral. And so I do use discourse markers -- deliberately, if not always consciously in the moment. For instance, "um" is a marker that signifies a scepticism about something someone has said:

"Um. I don't think that's quite what she meant."

"Well," which (you of all people must have noticed) I use a lot, signifies that I am specifically responding to something someone has said, and adding a qualifier or minor disagreement:

"Well, that may be mostly true, but . . ."

I did a very quick search through our conversation on Discord, and found more than a few instance of my use of "I mean." Here's an actual instance:

"Is doing all this stuff really a wise idea? I mean, I'm sure you know what you're doing and all (coughs) but . . ."

These phrases, as I use them, are "unnecessary," strictly speaking -- I'm not really in need of more time to think about what I'm saying. I use "I mean" here because it signifies something about the informal nature of our chat, and also, in this instance anyway, a certain degree of (again) scepticism. (I seem to be very good at being sceptical.)

They also, I think, "colour" my chat: you can think of them as sorts of verbal signature. I suspect that I have a reasonably recognizable chat style (as I imagine others here have noticed as well). Like the way I habitually say goodbye in IMs:

"Byeeeeeeee!"

There is no word or phrase that is intrinsically good or bad. They are tools that are used well, or misapplied. But they are always "meaningful," even if that meaning doesn't necessarily redound to the credit of the person using them.

 

Your examples of “Well/um” and “I mean” are proper usage. I also use “Well” to offer what I think is a potentially unexpected response. If I asked you what you think of something and the first words out of your mouth where “I mean”, I’d wonder if you’d had a stroke. In that context you’ve yet to say anything, so there is nothing to clarify or amplify.

Starting a response with “I mean” or “Like I said” is not colloquialism, it’s carelessness. I’m sure you’ve witnessed the rise of “So” as the first word of a response. That also usually makes no sense and is done out of habit. I’ve a cousin who seems to end half his sentences with “and whatnot’. After visiting his family for a week, Mac started doing the same thing. I asked for examples of whatnots and he quickly kicked the habit.

I’ve caught myself overusing words like “basically” and “actually”. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits and hope I’m able to detect them before others notice.

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@Rolig Loonand @Madelaine McMasters -- you are both absolutely correct, of course, to note, and be peeved by, annoying misuses of discourse markers and "fillers" (or, indeed, of any words and phrases!). I think, fundamentally, we are in agreement.

Maddy, I find the application of the term "proper usage" to "um" . . . odd! There can be effective, and meaningful uses of it, as I tried to demonstrate, but "proper"? Show me the grammar!

12 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

I’m sure you’ve witnessed the rise of “So” as the first word of a response.

I have, and curiously, where I first noted it, a number of years ago, was in recorded interviews with scientists or social scientists on documentaries and such like. It may be that I now simply expect to hear it in that context, but I still hear it most often that way. I can remember trying to conjecture about why it seemed particularly prevalent among science types, and came up with all sorts of not-very-plausible theories about the word's relationship to ideas of causality, empiricism, temporal sequence, etc. that seemed to me associated with those fields. I suspect that I was reading too much into it.

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I hate.... the "latest" terms splashed about by firstly, senior educators, (which is mostly fine because you don't have to listen to them everyday), then rapidly regurgitated by every desperate journalist in the entire world.
When we examine this trend in all its *cough.. "granularity" ... we find.... 

🤢🤮

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