Saturday, July 23, 2011

On reaching out

The BBC has published a list of the U.K.'s least favorite Americanisms. 

It's a good list, since it includes "deliverables", "deplane", and "I could care less".   ("I could care less" was once a sarcastic statement, but is now meaningless). 

The most vile phrase mentioned is "reach out to" instead of "ask" or "call".  It's number 35 on the list, and was suggested by a Londoner named Nerina. 

"Reach out to" when the correct word is "ask". For example: "I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient". Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can't we just ask him?

Well said, Nerina.  Well said.  I get it all the time from salespeople who call my warehouses.  "Whited, should I reach out to Aaron in your purchasing department about your need for fastening solutions?"  (Fastening solutions are what we used to call nuts and bolts.) 

"Whited, I'll reach out to Darin at your office about this." 

"Do me a favor and reach out to Bentonville about the Wal-Mart shipment." 


It makes the speaker sound as if he's a freakin' televangelist, reaching out to those who are lost without his product line.  The next salesman to disturb my slumber at work, daring to say he wanted to reach out to me, I'm going to reach out to him with an email containing a link to this post. 

Sir, evangelists reach out.  First basemen reach out.  Grocery stock clerks reach out, as do roofers, peanut salemen at ball games, firemen trying to get cats out of a tree, and politicians working rope lines. 

Salesmen either call, ask, or contact.  They are not God reaching out to Adam to give him the divine spark of life, their product line of fastening solutions, or low, low rates for shipments going to North Dakota on Thursdays. 

Most of the other Americanisms on the list don't bother me as much.  I could care less. 

A Fresh Coat Of Whitening to Radley Balko for the link. 


Hot Sam said...

I'm an American and these terms bug me too - most of them. I'm not going to call my shopping cart a "trolley" unless I plan on riding it down a hill.

"Going forward" is the most vile, trite, and misused phrase I've had the misfortune to endure. It is the adult equivalent of "like" in business conversation. It's typically used in speech to verbalized a comma.

Words that get my blood pressure up are diversity, empowerment, culture, high impact, at the end of the day, make no mistake, demagogue (as a verb).

Why do women always "curl up" with a book or a cup of tea? Are they freaking cats?

Don't call a restaurant "tasty." I'm not eating the restaurant, and I'll decide how good the food tastes. Only Samuel L. Jackson with a .45 gets away with saying "That's a tasty burger!"

Flammable is not a word. It's "inflammable."

I want to strangle every salesman who refers to a "price point" when they mean price or my maximum willingness to pay. I respond that a price point is a price on a demand curve where demand is inelastic below that price and elastic above that price. I love the confused look on their faces.

I cringe whenever someone pronounces the T in "often." they don't lisTen to me!

I do not want to be taken to a hospital in an am-boo-lance.

I admit to pronouncing the R in February, but I think that's correct since it's based on "February." I'm not sure about Wednesday. Perhaps the D is supposed to be silent.

Almost anything a politician says is annoying. We do not have to "pay" for tax cuts. You cannot "bend the cost curve." I'm tired of hearing about politicians "calling" for things, "blasting" things, and "fighting" for things. Unless a politician subdues an armed assassin, they are not "brave" or "courageous" for taking political positions.

"progressive" means "socialist."

I don't want to "make a difference." I want to make an addition.

Stop referring to "hunger" in the US when obesity is a major problem for the poor. Only a moron can't find a free meal somewhere. Feel free to call an Ethiopian "hungry."

John Madden was so pleased with himself for saying "three-peat", he said it five times in one minute.

"Begging the question" does not mean what most people think it means.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I have never heard anyone use the term "price point" except as a synonym for "price".
Makes me nuts.

I survived one corporate takeover (in retail) where everyone "went forward". Nothing ever happened in the future tense. It was always "Going forward, lets...."
Horrible people, all of them. They also referred to the books we sold as "product".
They are going to hell.

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Some of these items were steeped in the American sports lexicon. "touch base" means something here, but would be the equivalent of "sticky wicket" to us. "My bad" is something you'd say on a pick-up game of basketball... probably doesn't translate with the same background vibe. In fact, vibe is in there too, I'm sure. "Season" for a string of TV shows - same thing. "Threepeat" has got to drive them insane.

Consequently, "zed" vs. "zee", "shedyool" vs. "sked-yule"; "leevrudge" vs. "lehv-uh-rudge"... there's a million of Anglo-isms that make me crazy.