Mar. 2nd, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
I have a new pet peeve, and with it, a new resolution. The pet peeve is a common American phrasing that takes some set up to explain. Suppose something could be A or B, with B being either an opposite of A, or clearly bad when A is good. Instead of saying "This is B", people will say "This is not very A." For example, if you go to Hawaii and it is mysteriously freezing, people will say "I was planning on something warmer" rather than "I'm freezing my balls off". Other variations include:

  • "That's not my favorite" = "I find this actively unpleasant"
  • "This is not necessarily what I planned on" = "I wanted the opposite of this"
  • "Weren't completely relevant" = "Were irrelevant", "Weren't very relevant"
  • "Wasn't exactly a model" = "fat"

I find this actively annoying. We all know what people mean, but... no, we don't. There's still a lot of ambiguity and suddenly it's on you to guess where. It makes it a lot harder to answer follow up questions. In the particular case of my boss telling me "not necessarily what we wanted when we started this project" (not my project), it makes it harder for me to ask follow up questions about things that were poorly done, versus things that had to be changed because the plan was based on incorrect facts.

I have tried to stop doing this myself, and it is hard. It feels harsh and mean. I try to stick to it because I think verbal imprecision is disrespectful, and that is worse than mean, but it is very hard. I haven't even attempted to fix my use of the word "maybe" to mean "definitely", but I think that is the next step.


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