Just Some Pet Peeves. No Big Whoop.

November 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Ever notice how some words seemingly all of a sudden become buzz words, and everyone is using them? For example, “utilize” was a perfectly respectable word years ago, but in the late 1980s or thereabouts, it suddenly became the ubiquitous replacement for the less flashy “use.” You couldn’t just “use” a tool or a software program, no, you had to utilize it.

The same thing happens, now and then, with pronunciations of words. I remember when CNN led the charge of showing how enlightned, sophisticated people pronounce “negotiate.” The traditional ne-go-shee-ate didn’t cut it anymore. Now, it was ne-go-see-ate. Nego-see-ations replaced negotiations, etc.

Well, I was just sitting here, apropos of nothing, thinking about the latest crop of buzzwords, catchphrases, and whatnot that I don’t like and try like heck not to use, just out of principle. Here are some that come to mind. I’ll add more as I think of them:

Having said that . . .
It seems that very few people these days can string two sentences together, in print or verbally, and not use this one. They seem to forget that
everything you say after the first thing you say includes the reality that you said what came before.

If you will . . . is another broadcast news-driven catchphrase that has crept into the popular discourse where it has no place. I hear television and radio reporters sprinkle “if you will” so liberally into their reports, that I’m convinced that it’s just another “ummm” or “ahhh” to fill space between thoughts. It’s the equivalent of saying “as it were.” Just imagine how quickly annoying it would become if everyone on TV, and then everyone else, started saying things like, “Well, my opinion about this, as it were, is that we need to rebuild New Orleans, as it were, as quickly as possible.” Our heads would all explode. Ditto for this particular catchphrase. It’s lame and unnecessary, if you will. 

Don’t even go there . . . or its abbreviated version: “don’t go there.” Everyone uses this stilted phrase, and I mean everyone. It’s cute when a Southern-type person employs this bit of homespun charm, but when anyone else trys it on, it just doesn’t work (think Robert Bork’s beard or Richard Reich’s political philosophy). It’s about as lame as “You go, girl!” and for the exact same reasons.

You go, girl! . . . See above. This is always and everywhere lame. No exceptions.

Dude . . . I can understand why my 11 year old son Theodore and his cronies use “dude” hundreds of times a day in their 11-year old discourse. No problem. When I was his age, we employed “boss” and “tough,” and other slangisms with abandon. But the difference is, our parents didn’t.Those words belonged to the world of adolescents. Everyone understood that, and any adult who, back then, made a habit of saying things like, “Hey, Herb, that new sports jacket you have on today is really boss,” would be unlikely to succeed in the world of adults. The problem with “dude” today, as with “cool,” is that although these are completely good and useful words for kids, teens and even to some extent young adults, they sound lame coming out of the mouth of a 50 year old. Any 50 year old uttering phrases such as, “Dude! How cool is that!” when the office’s new color copier has been installed is just a middle-aged hipster wannabe. Pretty much like the 50 year old woman who dresses like she’s 17. It doesn’t work.

How cool is that! . . . see above.

Sort of . . . This one, I am pretty sure, filtered into parts of the American mainstream via highbrow British actors and celebrities who appear on TV here in the States. I’m not talking about “Benny Hill” or “The Office” (the latter show I really, really enjoyed). I’m talking about the Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson types — beautiful British people with good teeth and nice clothing — musing about this or that while being interviewed by Larry King or Charlie Rose. “Well, Larry, I got this sort of inspiration for my role as I was watching this sort of BBC documentary of . . . .” Whatever. When I hear U.S. celebrities like Tom Cruise or Katie Couric affect this Britishism, I laugh. It’s okay when Emma Thompson says it, but it’s lame in the extreme when coming out of pretentious American mouths.

He (she) just doesn’t get it. . . . This is code for “he (she) just doesn’t agree with me.” And it seems the biggest offenders with this catch phrase tend to be political commentators. The claim that so-and-so just doesn’t get it, in addition to being an insult to so-and-so’s intelligence, also comes across as a smug reassurance to the reader that, although so-and-so is too dense to get it, I, on the other hand, (and here the blogger’s nose rises an inch or two higher) am sufficiently enlightened and sophisticated to ‘get it.'” And if you disagree with me, well, then you just don’t get it. Got it? :)


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