Pet Peeves? You Bet! (No, Really.)

The floodgate is open! The topic this week is Pet Peeve Phrases, and boy, do I have a boatload!

Since English was not the first language of my mother and many of her neighbors,( who came from all over Europe), their teachers were sticklers for perfect pronunciation of English, and the idea rubbed off on their students. My mother and her six sisters became executive secretaries; no one could ever tell that they spoke only Italian at home. So  they  were sticklers with the subsequent generations.  When I moved here I would send to my mother installments of what I called “The Kentucky Multi-Dialect Dictionary.” It would make her laugh until she cried.

I won’t even try to go into what I consider ‘mispronunciations’, after all, the people here think that I talk funny. I will hit on phrases that I have heard everywhere that I have lived and in the media. I will mention a couple of regional specific terms and phrases, though.

No one in Southeast Idaho says, “You’re welcome”; it’s “You bet!” No matter what you are thanking them for, holding a door open for you,  giving you a gift, pulling you from a burning building, it’ll be “You bet!”

I had two neighbors in Colorado who were old friends. One lived upstairs with a big cat, one lived downstairs with several.The cats went in and out, as there was a bit of land around the converted farm building we lived in. I said that I never saw one of the cats that they both told me existed. Her owner described the unseen one as ‘scary’, so I figured, she was a weird cat. When I finally started seeing the cat, she ran from me. I told the other neighbor, who also said the cat was ‘scary’. I said, “But she seems so shy.” “That’s what I mean,” She said. “She gets scared easily.” Uh, huh.  I started to dispute that, but decided it would be a lost cause.

When I went to a family wedding recently, a relative described the groom’s mother as “a panic”. I said, “She panics???” No, I was assured that she was an outgoing person who was fun. When I commented that the officiating priest was funny, the same relative also described him as “a panic.” I can’t see that one catching on.

I think the one that had driven me the craziest most of my life has been the misstatement:
“I COULD care less”. “Well”, I usually tell the speaker,” “then you do care, since you could actually care less.” This should be properly phrased as: ”I could NOT care less.” It’s the only way it makes sense.

“Me and him was…” [shudder!] How can the speakers stand themselves? I’ve gone around and around with children who start a sentence that way. I’ve interrupted and interjected, “He and I were…” Most of the time, they catch right on, but sometimes a hapless kid will restart with: “Me and him was…” . I did this six times with one kid and finally had to stop her to explain what was happening.

Jeff brought up on of the worst offenders,( as far as I am concerned ),yesterday: People have driven me nuts with “I don’t got no IDEAL.”
I don’t have any idea why they think this is correct.

Why the word ‘fun’ being used as an adjective? “This is so fun!”, is no fun to hear.

“Where are you AT?” Save yourself the trouble of adding ‘at’, please, and save the language as well.

We also have an epidemic of people adding to words, taking them farther and farther away from their root words. ”Orientate” has become so common that it is actually acceptable. [shudder again] .‘To orient’ is a perfectly good phrase; why not use it? I had an extended family-in-law member tell me that her son had not been ‘Confirmated’, [Confirmed]. The neighbor told me that she had her dog ‘spayeded.’ I keep hearing horrid examples, such as ’specificate’. ROOT WORDS, People! Back-pedal.

Does anyone TAKE anything anywhere anymore? Everyone seems to “BRING” things. “Take” implies ‘away’; “bring” is a motion toward or with you. Now, I understand that at times, either can be used. If we’re going somewhere I can tell you to “bring someone along”, and we can “take him along”, since we are going to  “take him with us.” (We’ll bring him back, too.) I haven’t heard anyone say they were taking anything anywhere lately. They say, ”I’m going to bring flowers to her at the hospital.” No, no you aren’t; you’re going to take flowers to her. If she has been discharged, then you can bring them back here, or take them to her house. “If it doesn’t fit, sir, you can BRING it back for an exchange”, which is all well and good. But if you take it home and it is too big, you will take it back to the store to get the right size; you aren’t going to ‘bring’ it back to the store from your house, unless you decide that it fits after they make an alteration. You can then bring it home,(if you live with me), or take it home,(if you live elsewhere.) Bring=to/with; Take=away/from. “BRING the box to me, or TAKE it to the garage”. It’s easy, really.

One British phrase that has only recently integrated itself into American speech is that someone or something has “turned up missing”. For crying out loud, make up your minds! Did he/she/it turn up, or are they missing? (“I met a man who wasn’t there.” LOL!)

I could go on and on but will leave you with an appropriate phrase. I heard this first from a friend from Baton Rogue many years ago but I’ve heard it a few times quite recently:

“I don’t want to talk your arm off.”

They can talk my ear off, they can twist my arm. Both can be done figuratively and the arm-thing can be done literally, but for Heaven’s sake, why would an arm fall off,( or feel like it would), no matter how long they talk to you? Why not a leg? With that phrase, they haven’t a leg to stand on.

Do any more pet peeve phrases occur to you?


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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25 Responses to Pet Peeves? You Bet! (No, Really.)

  1. I mentioned the Could Care Less a few days ago (on Jeff’s post) because that one drives me nuts! I will admit, I’m bad about the AT at the end of a sentence… I sometimes catch myself and rephrase, but not always!


  2. jeff7salter says:

    These are great.
    You bet.
    Another one I here is “He woke up dead”. Hmm


    • Yes! “Woke up dead”! DO people think before they talk at all? I read a newspaper description of a movie which stated that the main character was a ” dapper-dressed detective who was down on his heels”. I brought it to the attention of another columnist who specialized in words and their usage.He said, “Good Heavens! That’s like saying that although he had a ruddy complexion, he was as pale as a ghost!”


      • Theresa says:

        I love he woke up dead because I think it’s so funny! And yes, I’ve heard it before and even used it myself, albeit wryly, myself.


    • jeff7salter says:

      Actually, the form of “woke up dead” I’ve more often heard is,
      “You’re gonna wake up dead one morning.”


  3. Theresa says:

    You brought up two of my shuddering phrases. Since I was a little girl my mother and my grandmother made sure I did not ask the question, “Where’s it at?” My mother would say “It’s hanging on the at.” My grandmother would say, “It’s between the a and the t.” Neither would actually answer my question until I phrased it properly! I also can’t stand hearing that a female dog got spayeded. Drives me crazy! As for you bet, that reminded me of the few phrases of some foreign languages I have picked up. I’m not sure if there is actually a “you’re welcome” in Spanish, but the only thing anyone has ever told me to say if responding to thank you in that language is “de nada” which of course translates to “It’s nothing.” Interesting stuff!


  4. My answer didn’t ‘take” earlier! Theresa, I said that I like your mother and grandmother’s attitudes.I am bucking the tide of bad influences with my grandkids, esp. one whose OTHER SIDE that, although they know better, thinks that speaking proper English is ‘uppity’.Mind you,I use slang;I’ve been known to use language I’d rather you didn’t know I knew, but geeze, double-negatives and ‘don’t got’, etc on purpose is unnerving.


  5. Iris B says:

    Interesting details, Tonette. Some of them, I’ve heard, some of them I never noticed. I will have to listen to people more carefully 🙂
    Had quite a laugh at “turned up missing” … now that you mentioned it, it makes sense that it’s wrong !


    • I can imagine that since you learned English in Britain, you just rather ‘went with it’ about turning up missing, right. Iris?I know there are regional sayings all over the world ,( and many in America, with its vast regions and different peoples), where someone who did not grow up listening to it will be stopped dead in their tracks with,”What?”
      You may never hear some of them;I wouldn’t have had I not lived in specific places. And I hope I never again hear that a cat is “scary”, unless that little devil IS spooky!


  6. pjharjo says:

    LOL! What is it? Do peeps talk funny everywhere except here in the PNW??


    • Oh, too funny,Janette! I always thought, having grown up in the Washington, DC area, that I had NO accent…people from everywhere else did! When I moved around, I was told that I had one…hmmm
      People here used to tell me that I had a strange accent, but they didn’t have a whole lot of outsiders here 20 years ago…(except the Japanese who came to run a couple of the factories, and,for some reason, a number of people from Michigan Again, probably a factory-thing).
      Conclusion:Accents are in the ear of the beholder;if you are not FROM somewhere, the locals get to say that you have an accent.
      And many terms /phrases are regional.Many are based in the background of the major settlers of the local area.


      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        I’ve moved around so much in my life that everywhere I go, I sound like I’m from somewhere else. I did get a pretty strong Texas accent after living there for so long, but now all the Aussies think I’m from Canada, and all my friends back home think I sound like an Aussie! (And to hear Iris talk, you’d NEVER guess that she was German. She’s as Aussie as they come.)


      • pjharjo says:

        I know, Tonette. As I think about it; I’ve been told I have an accent, too! It began in grade school. Even though I was born and raised in Oregon, all the kids laughed at my “funny” accent. Reason being, I suppose, was that both my parents were born and raised in Louisiana. But I always thought I had no accent! Those LA peeps sure did, though! LOL! When I was around those from LA, they told me I had an accent (different from theirs) too, just like the kids I went to school with.

        Now I don’t know what kind of accent I have. But I do know when I am with one of my best friends, who happens to be from Tennessee, we always understand what the other is talking about. LOL!


      • Jeanne and Janette, my biggest problem is that if I don’t watch diligently, I pick up accents! Thank Heaven here, there are several types of speech patterns so that I don;t hear any of them for too long…besides, I hang around more with other “Brought-ins”. Janette, you may have picked up speech patterns from your parents. Often immigrant children speak with a slight accent of their parents or they try not to so they speak VERY PRECISELY, so that it sounds like an accent to the ‘locals’.


        • Jeanne Theunissen says:

          I pick up accents, too! I tend to say things the way I hear them, so my French teacher in junior high (who was from France) told me I had the best accent in the class. LOL


  7. Jeanne Theunissen says:

    If bad grammar drives you nuts, don’t ever go to East Texas! (And don’t read the book I’m writing, either, because it’s set in East Texas, and uses some of the local idioms.) I couldn’t believe some of the things I heard sometimes; even from English teachers! There, you “used to could” and getting ready to do something is “I’m fixin’ to____” (I still slip that one in every once in a while, even though I haven’t been back there in 6 1/2 years.)


    • pjharjo says:

      LOL, Jeanne! And Tonette – I just heard an anchor on a local news show telling people they could “bring” stuff” to the fair. I thought of you immediately. 🙂


    • I had a brother-in-law who used to be “fixin’ to go somewhere”. It was funny because he could actually fix ANYTHING and sometimes he would be repairing something so that he could go somewhere or take it somewhere, so my sister said, “NOW we have a real meaning to that!” I have never been to Texas, but my husband lived there and I have friends from there ,Or online there now, but I don’t think in East Texas…although I know a lot of “Loosieannans”. Thanks for stopping in , Jeannne.I appreciate it.


      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        I think West “Loosiana” is just a continuation of East Texas… or vice versa… LOL I can’t fix anything, either, but every once in a while, I’m still fixin’ to do something.


      • And now you are halfway across the world! Don’t you just LOVE the Internet? How else could we ever have met?


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