Andy Rooney Takes On TV Talk

<B>Andy Rooney</B> On Words And Phrases That Bother Him

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney. It was first broadcast May 15, 2005.
I know it's annoying when someone who knows a little about something keeps talking about it.

But, I do that.

I know something about the English language because I use it so much and I like to display my knowledge by being critical of other people.

I've been bothered by news broadcasts recently that use the word "troop" for soldier. They say nine American troops were injured. Well, my question is this: "How many soldiers were in each of those nine troops that were injured?"

A troop isn't a soldier. It's a group of soldiers.

I made a list of some words and phrases that bother me:

  • Unbelievable. Everything is "unbelievable" these days.
  • Very. We use too many "verys." I do that myself when I'm writing.
  • Incredible is overused.
  • Exactly. People like to say "exactly" when they agree with someone.
  • When we agree, we don't just nod. We say, "You're absolutely right."
  • "Quite frankly" is big with people who aren't being frank.
  • "To be perfectly honest with you."
  • People say, "I'm not trying to be funny." And then they try to be funny.
  • Or "I want to say just one thing," and they say three things.

    There are annoying phrases that interviewers use too often on television:

  • "Tell us just a little about ..."
  • "Tell us briefly ..."
  • "What is your reaction to ..." and "How do you respond to ..."

    Just ask the question, for goodness sake.

    English isn't easy. I called my doctor the other day and I was thinking how complex a simple word like "practice" is. We use "practice" to describe what doctors do when they're working, but then we use "practice" for what piano players or football players do when they aren't working.

    I mean, there are a lot of words that annoy me. I just used one I use too often myself. I keep saying "I mean." I was on with Larry King and my son pointed out that I said "I mean" about 50 times.

    My granddaughter drives me crazy with the word "like." It's, like, you know, like an obsession with her. She thinks it's, like, cool, man.

    People use phrases just to hear themselves talk, too:

  • "At this point in time ..."
  • "In and of itself."
  • "That's what it's all about."
  • "First and foremost."

    First and foremost is redundant.

    People like to think they sound smart saying "Quote, unquote."

    Well, I hope I've straightened everyone out with this comment. I mean, like, you know. I thought it was really fantastic, I mean, like awesome.

    By Andy Rooney