October 30, 2006

Stupid timewasting insincere voicemail blather

I just called the number of an office whose identity will not be revealed because they definitely should have been open till 12 noon and not gone to lunch early, and I got the familiar slow, time-wasting, prerecorded voice ("You have reached the office of the Division of Humanities here at the University of California, Santa Cruz..."), and I was reminded of something about voicemail systems: every occurrence of "You have reached" that begins a phone conversation is a lie.

John Q. Smith at Allied Enterprises never picks up his phone and says "You have reached the desk of John Q. Smith at Allied Enterprises Incorporated, and I'm available to take your call right now." Whenever you are told over the phone that you have reached someone or something, you have not reached him or her or it.

But hey, you knew that already. You're just as irritated by voicemail as I am. I momentarily forgot that. Sorry. Just venting.

You have reached Language Log here at One Language Log Plaza, http://www.languagelog.com. Have a nice day.

By the way, people tell me I have a habit of lambasting things as stupid and thus must be a very intolerant person. This charge is stupi totally unjust. I have never called anything stupid on Language Log, except... well, let me see...

Stupid prophylactic public statement blather
Stupid wild over-the-top anti-linguist rant
Stupid time-wasting insincere voicemail blather
Stupid self-defeating warning label nonsense
Stupid machine-generated spiritual blather
Stupid title blather for language articles
Stupid bank transfer scam email
Stupid redundant warning blather
Stupid contentless political blather
Omit stupid grammar teaching
Stupid junk mail envelope blather
Stupid fake pet communication tricks

Well, all right, there have been just a very few exceptions. So who died and left me the job of being Mr Tolerant about everything, huh?

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at October 30, 2006 03:36 PM