words that irritate- ‘I don’t do..’

October 14, 2006

As when General Sir Richard Dannatt proclaims that “We don’t do surrender”. According to my dictionary, this use of ‘do’, which can cover a whole range of meanings including ‘believe in’, have something to do with’, ‘like’ originated from ‘I don’t do drugs.’ Now you can put almost any part of speech after ‘do’- “If you do do drink, don’t do drunk” is an example. So some people don’t do mornings or birthdays, Terrorists Don’t Do Movie Plots, Jessica Alba doesn’t do nudity, President Bush doesn’t do nuance (or nudity, one hopes), US General Tommy Franks doesn’t do body counts and Tony Blair complains that the media “don’t do balance.” The most ridiculous example came from a friend of mine, who, when invited to pick up his recently arrived grandchild, said ‘I don’t do babies’. I don’t know why it irritates me , probably just because it’s new and I’m not used to it. Be that as it may, for the time being I don’t do ‘I don’t do’.

3 Responses to “words that irritate- ‘I don’t do..’”

  1. SilverTiger Says:

    I don’t like this use of “do” as it impoverishes expression. It is lazy language used by people who will not take the trouble to say exactly what they mean or are too inarticulate to do so.

  2. tomeemayeepa Says:

    Yes, you’re absolutely right and thinking about it that’s probably why it irritates me. That plus a certain brashness.


  3. […] I obviously underestimated Sir Richard Dannatt in my post yesterday. He’s not just a one-metaphor soldier but commands a whole platoon or battalion of them to deploy on appropriate occasions.  According to the Downing Street website the “General had said he did not want a cigarette paper between the Prime Minister, himself and the Secretary of State for Defence.” I should certainly hope not, though I notice that the General conspicuously failed to mention whether he would tolerate other sorts of paper (wall-, toilet, news- etc.) separating the trio.  To prove he’s not just an army man he shows he is equally at home with nautical metaphors: “Our society has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind……There is an element of the moral compass spinning.” I’m not an expert on matters maritime, but I wonder whether part of the problem might be that too many people believe that it is only some supernatural being that can steer the boat and supply the moral compasses when in fact both these tasks we should be doing for ourselves. Also, I’d like to remind Sir Richard that a boat with an anchor firmly embedded in the sea floor aint going nowheres fast. The General has me puzzled with another of his metaphors: “We don’t do surrender.(see this post) We don’t pull down white flags” Again, I’ve never actually been a soldier but I thought the normal way of surrendering was to raise or wave a white flag, not pull it down. I might be wrong but it seems to me the General is saying ‘once we’ve surrendered we don’t stop surrendering.’ Perhaps some kindly vexillologist will enlighten me. […]


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