‘Anyway, you know, whatever – it is what it is, at the end of the day.’
This is the most irritating sentence in the English language, according to a poll in the United States last month.
‘Whatever’ – or, as it is more commonly said, ‘What-evvv-urhhhhh’ or ‘wadeva’ in Singapore – proved to be the most grating of the five phrases that were thrown up.
While I completely agree that these words and phrases all deserve to be eradicated from everyday speech, I must say I found the poll a bit wanting.
After all, my own mental list of annoying words, compiled over years of totally unplanned research, easily runs into the hundreds.
If I had to give a prize to one for the (dis)honour of being the most annoying, it would go to ‘anything’.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a perfectly acceptable word when the person who uses it really means ‘anything’. Like, for instance, me, when I say ‘I don’t have anything to wear’.
But what some people don’t know is that the word ‘anything’ is more commonly used as a trap. Indecisive people say it to lure you into a false sense of agreeability, and then they slowly kill you with frustration.
This is how it goes:
Me: ‘What do you want to eat for dinner?’
Indecisive Person: ‘Anything.’
Me: ‘Okay, Thai food?’
Indecisive Person: ‘Uh… I don’t really feel like Thai.’
Me: ‘Japanese then?’
Indecisive Person: ‘No, I had Japanese for lunch.’
Me: ‘How about French food?’
Indecisive Person, who by now is proving to be irritatingly decisive: ‘Yuck, I hate French food.’
Me, on the verge of death by exasperation: ‘Then what do you want to eat?’
Indecisive Person: ‘Oh, anything, up to you.’
A friend of mine has developed a foolproof way to deal with this. Once his dinner partner says ‘anything’, he will insist on going to McDonald’s and brook no further discussion. He doesn’t mind eating the dinner in total frosty silence just to make his point.
Then there are words that are not inherently annoying – except when they are used wrongly, which seems to be every single time they are uttered.
Case in point: ‘Literally’. This word aggravates me so much that whenever someone uses it in my presence I get an ulcer. Not literally.
But seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say ‘literally’ when what they actually meant was ‘really’, I would have about $147. Literally.
Another similarly abused word is ‘whereby’, which is a particular favourite with insurance and property agents. In fact, they often use the two words in the same breath.
A property agent once told me: ‘The nearest station whereby you can take MRT is across the road and 10 minutes’ walk to the left. It’s literally just next door.’
Whenever I complain to people about my word woes, they usually just make it worse.
‘Don’t stress,’ they will say – a useless injunction if I ever heard one.
Still, that’s better than my personal anti-favourite: ‘chillaxing’, as in ‘Hey, why are you so tense? Chillaxing, lah.’
That’s right – it’s not just ‘chill’ or ‘relax’ or even ‘chillax’, but ‘chillaxing’. Even if the word made sense, it would be ungrammatical.
Every time I hear this, the only thing I want to chillax is the speaker’s head. With an ice-pick.
I even have a most annoying letter of the alphabet: K. Not because I hate koalas, or kangaroos, or karaoke, but because K is a completely unnecessary abbreviation of the already abbreviated ‘OK’.
This is most frequently used after I have typed out a very long and complicated SMS to a friend about exactly where we should meet, at what time, and where the cheapest and nearest parking is available.
His reply: ‘K’. Without a fullstop, because typing any more than one letter is just too much effort.
I really don’t understand why a word that originally comprises only four letters (‘okay’) has to be shrunk to two letters, and then one.
I suspect that in time, people won’t even bother to type anything at all. They’ll just send an empty SMS to signify consent.
Then again, if that ever happens, I suppose I have the perfect response already: ‘wadeva’.
(Taken from The Straits Times (Singapore), November 15, 2009 Sunday, LIFESTYLE – REFLECT)
Haha..I can really relate to this article!! Although I’m guilty of saying “anything” when asked what to eat. But-I say anything and I mean! Haha. The “literally” and “whereby” never fail to make me flinch whenever I hear it. The ‘K’ example too! I hate it when I type a whole chunk of details and I receive a ‘K’ even before I can exit my message screen. But still, it’s better than not getting a response at all, or getting it days later.
Anyway, something else funny that I read in the papers today. It was from the weekly Facebook page in the Lifestyle section.
Singapore Population Explosion Committee wrote at 5pm:
“Dear Ms Britney, We are tasked with the urgent mission of increasing the birth rate of Singaporeans. Your song Baby One More Time has been chosen as our campaign song. We seek your permission to broadcast in four official languages.”
I enjoy reading the Sunday Times, especially the reflect section. Most of the articles are either thought-provoking or filled with witty humour!