There isn’t much that gets me shouting at the tv and radio. Well not since the last England game. Oh, and the budget earlier today. And whenever that stupid Go Compare advert appears. And… Okay, so maybe I shout at inanimate objects more than is healthy, but it is absolutely guaranteed when people start mangling the language.
I was wandering through the living room last night and caught some of those “Police! Stop! Death! Smash!” programmes and there was an officer on the phone to some woman. He was telling her that he’d “found a handbag belonging to yourself.” I walked back in the room to shout, “It’s ‘you’ you moron.”
Of course, even that would have been a bit clumsy. The plain and simple way would have been to say “I’ve found your handbag” or “a handbag that I think belongs to you” but he had to go for the ingratiating “yourself” that seems to be slipping into the language.
For me, this use of ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ when it should be ‘you’ or ‘me’ started with telesales and helpline people. The sort who say things such as. “we’d like to offer yourself a weekend for two…” or “and how can I help yourself?”
Presumably someone, somewhere in telesales training decided that using ‘yourself’ instead of ‘you’ sounded softer and more servile. Or it has spread like a virus to the operators through shared handsets. Whatever the source, it drives me nuts and now it is creeping its way into the public services FFS.
Some would argue that it is just the natural evolution of the language and I shouldn’t mind. I’ve given up on the almost universal use of “A met with B” when really they simply met them, but I’m holding out on the reflexive pronoun because it is simply wrong.
And don’t get me started on those commentators who literally say literally when they literally mean nothing of the sort.