Saturday, December 21, 2013

Words to Avoid

According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, 38% of Americans dislike the word "whatever," and have chosen it as the most irritating word in the English language for the last five years. Like most polls, this particular one asked a relative chosen few--in this case 1,173 people--what they think, and then published the results as if God had spoken. I'd like to know just who they asked; nobody called me, and I'm a big fan of "whatever." In fact, I can hardly remember what I said before it showed up; now I use it liberally and it seems to do the trick in most conversations. It can end an argument like nothing else, and that's always a good thing, especially when you're talking politics.

And too, just who are these Marists? Their institute is based in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a lackluster town one can never leave too soon. It's hard though, because driving there you get caught up in a traffic circle that keeps you going around the same streets over and over trying to find the main road out of town, but you keep missing it. (I know, having been trapped there more than once.)

I find "whatever" much less offensive than some other words that spring to mind, like "food poisoning," and "strange sausage," or "We were planning to have breakfast out on our last day in Spain but my husband got sick from last night's dinner so we can't." Now those are some irritating words.

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