Archive for February 23rd, 2013

As a matter of fact

I don’t want to appear too grouchy, but every now and then, I can’t help noticing some little quirk of writing or of speech that I can’t help finding irritating. Why I should be irritated, I do not know: I am sure I too am, albeit unconsciously, guilty of many turns of phrase in my own writing that irritate the hell out of others. Be irritated not, that ye irritate not others. But sometimes, one simply needs to get it off one’s chest. So here goes.

Why is it – I do hope the reader does not find the use of rhetoric questions to make a point irritating – why is it, I wonder, that when people use the word “fact”, they do not really mean “fact”? A fact is clearly defined; it is something that is established and generally agreed to be true: water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and freezes at zero; Lima is the capital of Peru; Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa; the Taj Mahal is in Agra; and so on. And yet, every time anyone says or writes “in fact…”, or “as a matter of fact…”, or “despite the fact that…”, or anything of that nature, what follows is almost invariably anything but a fact! It is an opinion, or a hypothesis, or a theory, or an assumption … but not a fact. Damn it! – look up the dictionary and find out what “fact” means before using the word!

And another thing … Why does everyone use the word “amazing” to mean something is “very good”? What amazed them about it? Didn’t they expect it to be very good?

And “begging the question” does not mean “implicitly raising a question”. It refers to the logical fallacy of assuming beforehand what one is setting out to prove or to demonstrate.

Any other common turn of phrase that you find annoying? Please feel free to comment below. Even if it turns out that I am guilty of using these turns of phrase myself. I won’t mind at all, as a matter of fact.