This abomination is rampaging through the United States (people intend it to mean "I'm ready to serve the next person in line") and it drives me crazy! I always want to say, "No, you can't help who's next, this is just the way we're lined up. There's nothing you can do about it." I think it should be "Can I help whoever's next," or - here's a daring thought - how about "Next, please." Am I being overly sensitive? Is there some way of seeing this as acceptable that I'm missing? Is it British? (In which case I certainly apologize for calling it an abomination, and will try to be more accepting!) Does it bother anyone else? Any comments?
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We have many abominations in BrE, but that one hasn't flown in yet!

(Now I'll start hearing it everywhere.)

I was extremely surprised to find that there are others who are as bothered by this increasingly popular phrase as I am. The only reason that I created an account on this forum was to reply to this post. I have noticed this colloquialism in settings ranging from fast food restaurants to major financial institutions. The last time I was out for a bite I had to restrain myself from slapping the cashier across the face when they looked up in a mindless daze and said "Can I help who's next?”

I feel better now....now that my seemingly irrational qualm is acknowledged by others and given some form of validity.
I'm not crazy, I just can't stand those who are too lazy to speak with some degree of intelligence...however minimal it may be.

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Welcome, Dean! I'm honored that my post inspired someone to join the Forum. How did you happen to come across it? (It was posted quite a while ago.) I hope you enjoy the discussions here.
How about when people say "I could care less?" Shouldn't it be "I couldn't care less?" As in, I care so little about the topic already, it is not possible to care any less? But because so many people say "I could care less," it is starting to sound right. Am I missing something here?
Yes, of course it should be "I couldn't care less"! Funny thing is that when people drop the "not", the sentence means exactly the contrary... and nobody cares! Emotion: smile
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PieanneYes, of course it should be "I couldn't care less"! Funny thing is that when people drop the "not", the sentence means exactly the contrary... and nobody cares! Emotion: smile

Just as you say Pieanne....

Clichés are especially prone to scrambling because they become meaningless through overuse. In this case an expression which originally meant “it would be impossible for me to care less than I do because I do not care at all” is rendered senseless by being transformed into the now-common “I could care less.” Think about it: if you could care less, that means you care some. The original already drips sarcasm, so it’s pointless to argue that the newer version is “ironic.” People who misuse this phrase are just being careless. http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/care.html
I've usually heard "I could care less" with an emphasis on the "I"; whereas "I couldn't care less" has a sing-sing emphasis on the "couldn't" (in BrE, at least).

"I could care less" seems like an ellipsis of a sarcastic "As if I could care less!", which could be construed as "As if I cared at least a little!".

Am I alone in being irritated by people who over-analyse macrosememes? People hear a phrase they have not heard before, decide they don't like it, look for its "strict" meaning, pull it to bits and then ridicule it. Nobody would try to argue that Go tell that to the marines! was seriously a request to impart information to that particular branch of the armed forces.
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