Saturday, September 22, 2007


You know what I love about editing? It’s like the working girl’s grad program. You get to duck into someone else’s language and figure out what makes it good or different or even beautiful. I don’t really do the beautiful, the difficult, the complex of structure in my own writing—I have reasons, or maybe justifications, for this—but I’d almost forgotten the geeky delight I can take in just the right word. “Rakish” is awesome.

Other words, I will never ever use.

1. “Whinging”—It’s the new “whining.” Some people can pull this off. Others come off the way Madonna comes off with her new accent. A little too fahncy in the pahnts.

2. “Full disclosure:”—Occasionally, people actually are providing full disclosure. Mostly though, it’s a nice of way of saying “Name-Dropping.” (Full disclosure: I was once in a television green room with the writer Ann Brashares.)

3. “Inexorably”—It means “unyieldingly.” It’s just kind of ugly.

4. “ Webinar”—For real? People say this with a straight face?

5. “Natch”—I finally figured out that this is slang for “naturally,” but it still makes me, inexplicably, think of pubic hair.

Give me your tired, your overused, your pet language peeves yearning to be set free in the comments section!


jessica said...

Re: "natch." Not inexplicably at all, and I have the same problem with that word. Yech.

As an editor, my leading horrors had to do with writers misunderstanding and not checking their collolquialisms, e.g. "tongue and cheek," or "get the jest of my idea" (was it a funny idea?) or, the beat-all, "doggie-dog world."

Saw all of them, and screamed in flesh-peeling agony every time. Natch.

Libby said...

The bad colloquialisms and misunderstood figures of speech come up in teaching, too: "taken for granite," "tow the line," etc. "Disinterested" for "uninterested" is another one that feels like fingernails on the blackboard to me, though I think it's coming into general usage and I just need to get over it. "Natch" is just nasty, though. Like, totally.

Jody said...

We picked up "whinging" when we lived in England, so it doesn't sound fancy at all to me. I wouldn't use it in writing, though, because, well, I'm not English!

Tracy said...

I too have noticed the whinging fad -- I chalk it up to J.K. Rowling -- but I have a dumb question. Do you pronounce it just like "whining" or some other way?

"Doggie-dog world" is just the best. Only it should be Doggy Dog World, and it should be the name of a band.

jessica said...

A band called "Doggy Dog World!" Let's be in it. We can have a smackdown with Josie and the Pussycats. I call tambourine.

Jody said...

It's pronounced with a short 'i.' I like it because it sounds so much worse than "whining." We were somewhere in England and we heard this exchange:

Mom: Stop whinging!
Girl: I didn't say anything!
Mom: You're whinging with your face!

I love that. It pisses me off when my kids whinge (or whine) with their faces.

About the J.K. Rowling thing, I noticed that in the later books, the American editors left in more and more of the British language. I think that's good, but you're probably right that it's why words like "whinging" are creeping into American vocabulary.

Jennifer said...

I'm here in my glass castle with the bad colloquialisms (and misspellings and entirely omitted words), but I recently read something where a writer referred to a group of blonde kids as "toe-headed."

Good double bill, huh? The Doggie Dog World with special guest, Toe-Headed Children!

Lauren said...

How about "it peaked my interest" instead of "it piqued my interest"?

I got "whinging" from Nigella Lawson. It's pronounced win-jing. I like that it's similar to "unhinge" and "binge."

BarbaraCA said...

Every time my husband says he will "ping" someone (e-mail them), it makes me hate him a little.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

Ok, I have to disagree on the "whinging" front. I'm Australian and we don't whine unless it's a good red. We're whingers.

It's pronounced "win-jing". 7-year-olds seem to have mastered it, at least mine has.

When it comes to language I hate any of the new web slang, abbreviations or acronyms. Sometimes I'd really like to rip my eyeballs out when someone decimates the English language with such gibberish.

Of course, that's right before I notice my own slip up.

Oh, and I kind of like "Doggie Dog World". I have to say I've never known a dog EAT a dog so it seems to make more sense.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

*shudders* Oh, the horror! I had never seen "natch" used before but right after I commented here, only a moment ago, I flipped to a different blogs page and there it is, glaring at me.

It really does just rip right through you, doesn't it? How did it ever come about anyway? Natch is nothing like naturally.

Feeder of the hungry beans said...

My pet peeves:

Out of pocket (meaning unavailable)


"Log onto www.something" or "Surf on over to..." It's 2007! We can just "go" to these newfangled things called "web sites."

People who post. like. this. We get it: You're emphatic.

Caroline said...

I picked up "whinging" from a Brit, too, and only use it to describe the particularly irritating sound of my children's whiny voices.

Anonymous said...

I don't dislike "natch" myself (probably because I associate it with Antonia Forest and Jessica Mitford, two writers whom I adore), but I have similar dislikes, so I do sympathize. And I'll keep in mind from now on that some people find "natch" fingernails-on-blackboard-y.

Is the pubic hair thing because of thatch?

Magpie said...

"benny" - as in benefits. We got a solicitation in the office for a med flex card called "Benny". On the name alone, I'm not interested.