Defriending. Not a thing.


He defriended me on Facebook!

If you use words like “defriended”, I’m not all that surprised.


Me, myself and myselves


Using “myself” as a more emphatic form of “me” isn’t only not a thing, it’s also deeply wrong.

The call centres started it. “Please do not hesitate to contact myself. Is it an account you hold with ourselves? Would you like myself to put yourself through to their extension?”

Having misappropriated reflexive and emphatic pronouns for use whenever me, you or us sounds too curt, too informal or too lacking in syllables, call centres have started to make less sense than ever before. And the default reaction, when challenged, is incomprehension. Which is ironic.

“How can I contact yourself, when I’m not you?”

And of course, from the call centre it travels directly into business speak and thereafter into common parlance, with more and more complex layers of incorrectly-deployed reflexive pronouns building into ever more dizzying heights of incomprehensibility. Was it myself that you spoke to? Yes, I think it might have been yourself, and also herself over there. What can I get for yourself? Myself, I’d like a cup of tea, and my sister will have coffee. Could you get that for ourselves? Whose is the coffee? Oh it’s myself’s, thank you.

Every jarring misuse of “ourselves” overcompensates for the misconception that simple words like “us” are in some way less professional or meaningful; in Yorkshire it also over-corrects for a tendency to use phrases like “us customers” to mean “our customers”: if ‘us’ is wrong, we’d better use something more elaborate.

Then again, in Yorkshire the error gets compounded again when, apropos of nothing, the word ourselves suddenly becomes “us-selves”.

Then they invent horrors such as “their-selves”. Shudder. The creature is alive!

I’m not sure how this juggernaut of bad grammar can be halted. Perhaps an instructive laminated sheet on the wall of every veal-fattening pen in every call centre the length and breadth of the country, containing some simple rules. Obviously nobody can be bothered with remembering tedious grammar any more, and in any case it boils down to this: if it sounds stupid, it probably is.

Contactless, and the death of nouns

Things described without the use of a noun. By definition, not a thing.
“Pay by contactless”, urges a sign at every Marks and Spencer checkout. Contactless what? Oh contactless card, you mean, well why didn’t you just say that? It’s almost as if M&S are going out of their way to enrage the local pedant population, first with their 5 items or less and now this. Not to mention their breathily excessive use of adjectives, of which more later.

Alas, they’re not the only ones discarding the essential building blocks of straightforward communication. A glorious former employer of mine recently recruited a Head Of Social and a Digital Director. Turns out that the missing nouns were ‘media’ and ‘marketing’ respectively. Nouns are so passé these days that the coolest, hippest proponents of communication have simply decided not to bother with them.

Poor nouns. Imagine being made redundant by a chance meeting between an adjective and a hip, outré, laziness. Things can’t be things without nouns, except, apparently, when they can.