20080722

Care less

There's probably a complex grammatical way of describing a phrase like "I could care less", when what the speaker means is "I couldn't care less", but the meaning is clear in the event anyway. I recently encountered a new one of these: while in Bristol Airport, my flight was delayed (Why? The explanations given ranged from "for technical reasons" and "awaiting air traffic control", neither of which made any sense). The tannoy announcement was ended with "We apologize for any convenience this may cause." Now, you used to hear this occasionally and think to yourself "ho-ho, they've got it mixed up". But I've heard this repeated so often, that I think it's becoming part of the language, and unthinking drones are repeating it, ignorant of the literal meaning, and assuming that it is a genuine apology. Of course, any sentence that begins "We apologize" is clearly bogus: there's virtually no setting where it is meaningful to have an apology from a collective group of people. I'd rather not hear this; since any situation where there is a tannoy announcement of an apology, you can equally replace it with the statement "Everyone with any connection to this organization is entirely indifferent to your plight", I think I'd rather they just not bother. About a decade ago, rail stations in the UK took this a step further by having entirely automated announcements with apologies, which further highlighted this inanity -- a computer program was being made to fake an apology for the late running of the 9.25. I doubt that anything has been done about this obnoxiousness.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

At the beginning, those automated rail messages ended with "I am very sorry for..." Not "we". "I". I wondered if they thought their system was going to sound a lot more convincingly human than it turned out to. They got rid of that eventually, as far as I know.