Language: common usage complaints

There are a great many misuses of language which are becoming increasingly common of late and they need to be corrected. “Oh, but everybody does that!” Perhaps, but just because lots of people believe the same wrong thing, doesn’t make them right. That sort of thinking is how religions get started.

It has become habitual for people to say that they “binged” a series of television programmes or a set of books, and I mentally wince every time I hear the word used in such a context. Bingeing was a term I never encountered with positive connotations when I was younger: binge-eating was associated with eating disorders such as bulimia, when sufferers would stuff themselves with lots of unhealthy food before throwing up so as to maintain their emaciated appearance; binge-drinking was associated with Friday and Saturday nights of excess or lads’ holidays, also usually followed by throwing up. Of course, these days everything has to sound as though it is an activity of excess, and binge-watching certainly sounds more exciting than, “Yeah, I vegetated on the sofa for sixteen hours straight.” You’re not an adventurer, you’re a slob. It’s enough to make one want to throw up.

“Oh, I’m a little bit OCD about that!” No, you’re not. You’re really not. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a debilitating condition that makes it nigh-on impossible for sufferers to participate in normal life; you’re just an intolerable attention whore trying to make yourself sound interesting. And failing abysmally.

Incidentally, when somebody accuses me of being OCD because I like things to be put away properly, rather than just leaving them strewn about all over the place, that’s their disorder which I am attempting to correct. The O stands for obnoxious; I’ll leave you to work out what the C stands for yourself.

Then there’s the abuse of words so that they no longer have any meaning. “You’re a hero for signing this petition!” Really? Because, back in the day, a hero would have to save the village, kill the dragon and rescue the maiden – now all that’s required is a quick flick of the wrist? Well, at least that can be done from the comfort of one’s own home…

“What on earth am I complaining about?” you might ask. And you’d be wrong. It’s “What on Earth…?” because it’s a variation on “What in the world…?” and the planet is Earth. “What on earth…?” is “What on mud…?” and it would be a ridiculous question to ask because it disregards most of the surface of the planet: sea, sand, rock…

Oh, and learn to sign a letter. If you don’t want to use “Yours faithfully” (for someone whose name you don’t know) or “Yours sincerely” (for someone with whom you are familiar) then just use “Thanks” or “Regards”. Please don’t use “Best regards”, “Kind regards” or, worse, “Kindest regards” – it isn’t a bloody competition and nobody needs to feel that you’re looking upon them fondly. Get a grip.

Benevolent felicitations,



About Fles

Early middle-aged (oh yes I am!), no longer long-haired but still speccy and decidedly still an increasingly opinionated git. I’m basically a believer in individualism, that everybody has their own perspective and inner-beauty. I try to find humour in every situation. I enjoy reading and writing poetry.
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