Come again?

August 16, 2007, 7:54 PM UTC
Fortune

With this subprime madness making me feel, er, sub-prime (har har), I resolved to write about something fun today. Then on a cruise around fortune.com, I noticed Bing’s follow-up post today about grammar. I’d avoided mentioning it before — when he did “When smart people use bad grammar” and “Bad grammar, part two” in July — though both posts kind of made me want to do the wave in my office. Why? Well, I think I’m what Bing described in his August 20 column, “The Element’s of Style,” as a “stickler”: “These people deplore the decline of accuracy in communication. They seethe with resentment but live in fear of being labeled ‘grammar Nazis’.” For those of you who can’t imagine it, bless you. But you need only look to the palpitations I get when someone says “nonplussed” when they actually mean “not excited about” — as opposed to “perplexed” — to know that I am in fact a lunatic. This might be cool in my family, but it’s less than endearing in the real world. (Or is it “may”? Sigh.)

So that’s a long and roundabout way of saying, instead of grammar — which I’m guessing not everyone’s zealous about — I thought we might have a good time talking about the annoying phrases that get thrown around the office. Anne Fisher did a great list a few years ago called, “Business buzzwords that make you gag,” but I’d bet there are some new ones, not to mention our own Gen Y angle; with four generations in the workplace, some of us are hearing phrases we don’t even understand, let alone like. I, for instance, have started saying “up the garden path” far too much, especially considering I don’t even know exactly what it means or where it came from. My best guess is that some grown-up here said it and it just took up residence in my head. And My Reality Check Bounced! author Jason Dorsey, who’s full of stories, tells a good one about a new hire who spent a whole day looking for a “boilerplate.” So tell us your “favorite” phrases — and your grammar horror stories, too, if you’re obsessed, like me…