There are some commonly spoken/written pieces of English that make my nostrils flare whenever I hear/read them. It’s usually worse to hear them spoken, especially when accompanied by a visual either on a recording or in person, but the voice I assume the writer has when reading usually makes up for most of the difference when encountered in a literary form. To restrict the hypocrisy and to maintain some level of pride in my own writing and conversational skills, I try as much as possible to avoid these words and phrases. Here is a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of what creates this physical reaction.
“Journey” – unless spoken in a context of actual physical travel by Michael Palin in one of his classic BBC series, the cheesiness of this word makes me gag. I cannot watch most competitive reality shows because contestants will inevitably describe however far they got on the show as a “journey” toward some greater goal of stardom, weight loss, or getting over their fear of eating small invertebrates, exoskeleton and all. I recall one particular person from the iTurf days who thought he had an epiphany about the meaning of life when he described it as a journey. Uh…yeah. That’s why you work at Burger King instead of as a philosopher.
“Personal information” – hey, way to be vague. It’s a popular phrase when the politics behind privacy issues with government and corporations (which are both other words I hate to hear when used in such a generalized manner) and participation/utilization of the internet are the topic of discussion. Be specific. Use “personal security information” for things like passwords, PINs, and credit card numbers. Use “personal financial information” for things like your annual income, any investments, and in which banks you keep your wealth. “Personal demographic information” can refer to what direct information about you as a person may be collected without you knowing and/or against your wishes – full name, address, workplace, marital status, et cetera. If you say “personal information” in any context except where it’s an explicit label for something like creating your own profile for some kind of service or website, it sounds like you have no idea what you’re talking about, because you probably don’t.
“Liberal media” – nobody likes this phrase, because it’s a vague label that can’t accurately match any media outlet, and the “conservative media” that use it don’t like the concept…or any liberal concept for that matter.
“Freedom(s)” – I like the concept of freedom, believe you me, because I want to be able to use swear words and talk about how awkward my country’s Prime Minister looks on television and in photos, but the word has been used to death over the last decade or two (if not before that, I’ve only been politically conscious since about the age of 9) referring to absolutely nothing resembling actual freedom. Terrorists (another word that’s been flogged to death) and the Taliban don’t hate America’s freedoms as much as they hate the empire-like qualities it’s developed since deciding that it should be the World Police with so many ways to save the motherfucking day. The Taliban does, however, hate women’s freedoms, but that’s just a part of them hating women in general.
“Family values” – my family’s values were feminism and independent thought. And what did that produce? A marriage ongoing for nearly 40 years and three children with university educations and no criminal records. But Jesus is only convinced you’re a good person if you enforce denial of homosexuality and publicly shame women who have made difficult decisions in their lives.
Those are all I can think of for the moment, but I assure you – this will become a serial feature, hence the title “Vol. 1”.