Commentary – Nothing like a good old rant

Joe McWilliams

A guy – supposedly a computer expert – was sent to our office once to sort out some problems we were having. It became apparent after a while that he was anything but an expert and was pretty much flying by the seat of his pants. It’s probably asking too much of the reader to picture what it would take for a total techno-ignoramus (me) to figure out the repair man didn’t know what he was doing, but the clues piled up and finally it clicked.

As far as we know, he is making a living as an auto mechanic these days. This was a moonlighting gig for him, and if he got paid for it, he was getting away with murder.

But let’s get on with the story at hand. One thing he kept saying stuck with me as being particularly nonsensical. It was along the lines of the following question: “Do you want me to physically install (such and such a thing)?”

Physically? No, do it spiritually. That’ll probably work just as well. (I didn’t say).

Anyway, one thing led to another and I started compiling a list of things people say that don’t make much sense.

Redundancy is a biggie. In other words, saying the same thing twice using different words. I call it a waste of time, effort and space, and it is rampant.

For example: ‘Before in the past,’ and ‘What does it look like visually?’ How about ‘continuing on?’ No need at all for that ‘on.’

Or this annoying thing: ‘Currently we have no restrictions right now.’ And: ‘We also have a great selection of tires as well,’ or (even goofier): ‘It’s time to go back and reassess the situation again.’

‘ATM machine, MGA Act’ and ‘RCMP police’ might not strictly speaking be wrong, but really, why bother?

Then there’s the truly annoying, ‘It happened at 10 a.m. in the morning.’ You said ‘a.m.’ Did you not think we understood what it meant?

Zipping right along – these are probably judgment calls. Whatever.

‘Methodology,’ where ‘method’ would do just fine nine times out of 10.

Do we all have ‘a comfort level’ with that? Instead of ‘are we comfortable’ with that? What’s a ‘level’ anyway? It implies a point on a scale. Measurement. Nobody measures comfort. It’s neutral anyway. Having a certain ‘level’ of comfort could mean anything from uncomfortable to comfortable. Same goes for the misuse of ‘level’ with ‘skill.’ Saying somebody has a skill level is meaningless. There’s no scale, for one thing. And if there was, their level might be .01.

‘On a daily basis,’ when ‘daily’ would work just as well and take up less space and time.

Other stuff: I may be the only person in the world who doesn’t buy the designation of ’12 noon’ as ‘p.m.’ and 12 midnight as ‘a.m.’ I’ve failed to convince a single person it’s a logical impossibility and don’t expect my success rate to pick up.

Speaking of lost causes, it would be nice if news writers showed a bit more care in the following cases:

‘There’s’ instead of ‘there are’ – as in ‘there’s lots of opportunities.’

Something ‘played a factor’. Should be ‘played a role’ or ‘was a factor.’

‘Very’ or ‘pretty’ unique – unique means unique. It needs no qualification.

There you go. We managed to rant about something without mentioning Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump once.


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