Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Votes Are In....(Along with some ranting)

As a former English teacher, I love the science of linguistics. A student of William Sapphire, I truly get excited about word derivations and the changing scape of our lexicon. With the inclusion of words like "bootilicious" and "celebutante" in the Oxford English Dictionary (yes, that means they are now recognized as real words), the English language is as alive as Latin is dead (shout out to Penny, The Latin Master).

While new words like "e-commerce" and "blogging" become regular additions to our conversations, there are some words and phrases, however, I am eager to see retire.

And that brings us to this week's poll.

The first phrase that has overstayed its welcome as voted by the majority is, "I'm just keeping it real." This atrocity earned my own vote and is largely a result of the Jerry Springer Effect. As people are encouraged to speak the truth and unburden their souls for the daytime television audience, this communicado became a mantra for anyone wishing to "tell it like it is". Not only does is sound bad, the intent behind it is also missing the mark. Yes, we should be honest and sincere in our feelings; but at some point this mentality became a license for people to say whatever they wanted, regardless of whether or not it may be hurtful or solicited. At some point tact and consideration for the feelings of others lost out to self-motivated criticism and over-zealous judgement of others.

Can you tell I feel strongly about this one? Whatever happened to the old adage, if you don't have anything nice to say.....? I am all for healthy venting and sharing your thoughts and concerns; but I am also so sick of people who sit in the peanut gallery, picking at every little misstep of everyone else to make themselves feel better.

Sorry....maybe this should be "Digression Tuesday".

Followed closely in second place is the trainwreck that is "You go girl!" Again, a product of daytime television programming (shout out to Ricki Lake circa 1994), this egregious affirmation, once a proclamation trumpeting the power of women, is now either spouted by teachers attempting to "keep it real" with their students or moms (shout out to me), looking to encourage their own daughters in an easy phrase. In this department, I am also guilty of "Rock on, sister", and "Word to your mother" (the latter for obvious reasons).

Third place goes to "Pardon my French", which, despite decades of usage, still manages to annoy the body linguistic. I imagine part of the distaste for this phrase comes from the fact that the speaker is never actually speaking French, and part from some persistent resentment towards the francophiles who speak it.

Finally, "Don't take this the wrong way but..." is just bad business. Not that the phrase itself is overly annoying, but the clear intent to say something that will probably be taken the wrong way means you should not only pass on using this phrase, but maybe also rethink sharing the sentiment as well.

Thanks for voting!

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