Fingernails scraping a chalkboard never bothered me as much as Styrofoam on Styrofoam, but I'll take either over the sound of the word "particulate."
What's the difference between particles and particulates? Likewise, what's the difference between "particulate matter" and particles? Although I find the adjective form slightly less grating than the noun, both must go.
Never has there been a word that so baldly embellishes a simple concept. I've tried using it seriously in conversation. And I remain surprised when the listener accepts it along with my other words. I give a raspberry when I see it in print, directed at both the writer and the editor who let it pass, particulates of saliva landing on the page in front of me. I laugh when I hear it in conversation, explaining to the puzzled speaker that I just remembered something particulately amusing.
Maybe it has to do with some highfalutin concept that exceeds my grasp, something understandable at the postgrad level I never attained. Or perhaps it's a highly significant technical distinction, like that between "efficacy" and "effectiveness."
Particle contamination drove the recent recall of American Regent injectables; the problem is particles.
My resolution for 2011: war against "particulates." Victory will be achieved only when the word appears regularly within quotation marks, mocking its past use. George Miller