June 22, 2012


What annoying word or phrase are you tired of hearing?

Well, let’s see.  Let’s start with ‘dude’ or ‘bro’.

In a world where everyone wants to be an individual, language is also an individual thing.  The words or terms we use in reference to our friends or others we chat with, say a lot about who we are as individuals.

In days of yore, it was proper for younger people to refer to their elders as Mr. or Mrs.  As time has gone on, that show of respect seems to be a thing of the past.  There are so many other words we use now, it’s hard to list them all.

However, to me, the two most annoying of words to use on me, is ‘dude’ and ‘bro’.  First off, not everyone is my ‘bro’.  I only have three ‘bros’.  Ted, Doug, and Scott.  That’s it.  For another guy, and it’s usually guys who use this term, calling another guy ‘bro’ is indicating that you have a bond that is as strong as brothers.  Perhaps that’s my issue.  My brotherly bonds are not that great.

One brother, I haven’t had a proper conversation with for years… decades even!  Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever really had a ‘bond’ of any sort, even as children.  Another brother, I haven’t spoken to, again, in years.  The last conversation I had with him, ended with him yelling at me for no sane reason, and slamming the door on me as soon as I walked out of his home.  There is no need to get into the circumstances, but we were just beginning to build a friendship.  And all that went out the door, so-to-speak!

My third brother, whom I barely saw over my 40-some years, was due in part to my not being around while he was growing up.  I lived in another city, then province, and now country.  During my visit to see my family in 2010, I did get a chance to spend more time with him.  However, as much as I’d like to keep up that ‘brotherly bond’, it is difficult.  Distance may make the heart grow fonder, but it can’t hone a relationship.

To have a stranger or friend call me ‘bro’, just doesn’t sit well.  I have my own interpretation of what a ‘brother’ really is, so if you’re reading this, please don’t use the word ‘bro’ to me, to indicate that we have some sort of bond.

As for ‘dude’, that is, in my opinion, just an ignorant, unintelligent reference when you can’t remember the other person’s name!  When I hear someone use the term ‘dude’, it makes me think they dropped out of school after grade one or two, sat at home and watched T.V. or played video games all day, and basically never learned social manners or etiquette.

Being here in Taiwan, there were and still are a couple of words that the students use, and at times adults, that don’t sit too well with me.  Of course, it depends more on the situation and how and who uses these words.

The first being, ‘so-so’.  Teaching English is not as easy as you may think.  Trying to get students to use proper words, or even to use words to properly express themselves, is a great challenge.  I’m sure my French teachers when I was in school, would say the same thing.

Yes, I agree it does take a while to build up your vocabulary.  It takes a while to learn to respond to questions, and even longer to learn to respond with a varying answer.

Over the years here, I have been able to get my students to learn to use other phrases.  When I ask them, “How are you?”, the standard response is “So-so.”  I’ve heard that so many times, I can’t even count.  It’s not so much a response any longer, as I’ve been able to instill in their brains to use other words (including responding in a proper sentence), “I’m fine,” or “I’m happy,” or “I’m okay.”  When I hear the phrase, “So-so,” as a response now, I say, “I don’t understand ‘so-so’.  What do you mean?”  This usually gets the student to think a bit more and use more expressive sentences and words.

Another term that gets to me, is when a couple of students are chatting in Chinese, and I say, “Excuse me?”.  The response inevitably is, “No.”  Grammatically speaking, “No,” is not the proper type of response for this kind of question.  That aside, I really do not understand why this would be the response from a student.  I really don’t!  This is when I will respond back with, “No??”, and then they say, “Yes.”  I have a feeling, that what they REALLY mean to say is, “It’s nothing.”

Of late, a phrase that has become an annoyance to me is, “I’m sorry.”

I remember when we were kids, we would say our names over and over and over again.  After saying “Bill” 20 or 30 times, the word “Bill” no longer meant anything… it had no meaning.  It almost sounded like a strange or foreign word.  Try it.  Choose ANY word, and just say it over and over 20 or 30 times, and you’ll understand what I’m saying.

Well, HEARING a phrase over and over many times, takes on the same feeling.  When I’m talking with someone, trying to resolve an issue, and all they keep saying is, “I’m sorry,”, the word ‘sorry’ begins to be a meaningless word.  It looses its effect.

I guess, being an English teacher, and trying to use the English language properly, I try to watch what I say and how I say it.  I have learned to choose my words carefully, and at times, when to use lower level words and phrases, and when I can use the higher level words and phrases.  I still have to keep in mind, that not everyone in Taiwan speaks English fluently.  However, even when I speak my little bit of Chinese, I try not to repeat the same words or phrases over and over and over and over…

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “June 22, 2012

  1. joyce oconnell

    I think that our childhood has something to do with our family name? My sister hated me ’cause if I said that I was going to highschool, I went, if I said I wanted to work in Kitchener then I did. With my brothers, if you were successful great, but if you failed, O well, next. There wasn’t any compassion shown. The only brother that bothers with me, sends me flowers on my birthday, and calls on all the holidays. After awhile you just accept that, is the way it is.

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