No one ever ‘munched’ anything. People eat. They, on occasion, may eat with a certain relish, possibly even an unattractive avidity. And of course some people are just nasty eaters. But ‘munching’? Don’t believe I’ve ever seen it done. It has a cloyingly false ring to it. It has a wet-lipped, smacking-your-chops feel, a cartoonised version of pleasure. It’s like watching Keanu Reeves trying to ‘act’. Coupled with ‘delicious’ (‘He munched a delicious sandwich’,) its baleful power is monstrously amplified, morphing it into an intolerable, unprincipled assault on all that is decent. Stop it.
I think Martin Amis says somewhere that if you do ever see someone grinning, run like the wind. It simply would not be an acceptable expression, in any imaginable circumstance, the sole exception perhaps being that you are a spree killer toying with his victim whilst The Carpenters plays quietly in the background. As for the ‘mischievous grin’ which seems to survive in some secret bunker of the collective unconscious, I pray I may never witness it. And if I ever do, I’m going to smack it square in the gob.
Laugh (as a verb of speech: “What?” he laughed.)
Try it some time. Just try doing it. You’ll find that you are either laughing or speaking, but if you are achieving both simultaneously you are playing with forces you barely begin to comprehend: you are a profoundly troubling new development in the species. Anatomically it is just not on the cards, but there’s more: to ‘laugh’ a comment would be to behave in such an unendurably smug manner that you wouldn’t survive the week without injury or – better – death. How could anyone bear the company of anyone else for even a minute if people were ‘laughing’ their comments to each other? There would be a species extinction event, as perfectly tolerable conversations descended into spurting, gleeful slaughter, sickening orgies of bloodletting. Is that what you want? ‘He joked,’ ‘he chuckled’ and ‘he chortled’ are just the gibbering idiot cousins of ‘he laughed’ and should never be approached from behind.
Jot (as in ’to jot some notes’)
Jot. Jaunty little number isn’t it? ‘Oh I just jotted some notes down.’ It’s not the same as ‘making’ some notes, no, ‘jotting’ is the pepped up, bright-as-a-button, prettiest-cheerleader little sister of ‘making’ notes. ‘Jotting’ exists on a wholly different plane of being, one that is composed entirely of bubble gum and gymkhana trophies and neat little notebooks with shiny pink covers. ‘Jotting’ is an activity which only the pert, the primped, the intolerably perky are qualified to perform. If you see someone ‘jotting’, or even just suspect that they are about to, break their fingers. This simple, robust precaution should be sufficient to prevent any further incidence, at least temporarily.
‘Make’. ‘Make’ notes.
I have spoken.