Sunday, July 17, 2011


I'm always on the lookout for a new verbal trend.  Over the years, I have enjoyed word fads such as:
  • the incorrect use of "hopefully" (We say, "Hopefully, I'll be home in time for supper" when we might not be hopeful at all when we get home, especially if creamed cauliflower is being served. But when we use the word correctly, as in "Hopefully, I mixed all the ingredients together to make a cake," people look at you oddly.)
  • stores telling you they will give you a "free gift."  What other kind of gift is there?
  • People saying that something is "one of the most unique things."  Unique means one of a kind, so there can only be one.
  • the recent trend of "moving forward."  This phrase pops up in sentences all the time.  Moving forward, I think we can do without it. 
  • "It is what it is."  Of course it is.  Similarly, any number multiplied by one equals the same number.  So why say this?
  • "Go ahead and..." or "Take and..." are just sentence-stretchers.  I believe we can go ahead and stop saying, "Go ahead and cancel that order of creamed cauliflower" and "Please take and cut the grass for me."
  • the past tense of "text" is lost somewhere and needs to come home.  We say "I'm going to text Herbert and ask him to pick up some beer" and then later, when there is no beer to be had, we say, "Why didn't Herbert show up with the suds?  I text him four hours ago!"  
OK.  Those are my pet peevelets, but here is one that's coming up fast on the charts.  I call it The Self-Interview.  I believe it had its origins in the 1977 classic movie "Animal House," in the scene where the Delta fraternity is on trial.  Otter is chosen as spokesperson for the Deltas, because he's pre-law.  Or is it pre-med? ("What's the difference?") Addressing the college community, he says, "The question is not whether we took a few liberties with our female party guests.  We did!" as he gives a conspiratorial wink and nod to Dean Vernon Wormer.

That was the genesis of the self-interview.  We see it a lot suddenly when people have a microphone in front of them and a camera trained on them.  They ask themselves questions!
  • "Did we hit, pitch and field well enough to win this ball game? No, we did not!"
  • "Have we seen you dance better than this before? Yes, we have! Do we expect to see you dance better next week? Of course we do!"
  • "Have the American people spoken about the debt ceiling? They have. Have we heard them loud and clear? We have!"

You will also notice a similar trend among people who used to be school teachers, usually in the upper grades, usually in a less-than-scintillating topic. They tend to say things such as, "Woodrow Wilson sought to form an early precursor of the United Nations, a group he called the, what?  League of Nations!"

Have I written enough about language trends for today?  Moving forward, I'm gonna go ahead and say, what? "Yes!"

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