By Monte Lazarus
Maybe it’s just the natural consequence of reaching Geezerdom. Perhaps it’s a follow-on of an incredible exposure to dedicated, skilled teachers in the New York public school system (yes, you read that right!). Or, it might be a combination of the above added to an aversion to distortion of language. In any event, I’m tired of “like” a minimum of five times in every sentence, like, this one.
Through the years we’ve heard enough clichés and misused words to “sink a battleship” (how’s that for a cliché?). Toss in vague, meaningless generalizations and some made-up non-words and we’ve produced a new monster language. Here are just a few monstrosities that make strong women and men weep (especially English teachers and lovers of language):
• “Like” (see above). This is, like, my new favorite bête noire, because it, like, has no meaning and, like, just grates and, like, grates on my, like, ears. Why can’t people just get, like, over it. I know, I know, it’s the current favorite of teenagers and even some alleged adults. To that I say, “Yuck”, and you may quote me.
• “You know”. If I know you don’t have to tell me so.
• It’s a wonder there are any buses left in the United States. It seems that people are being “thrown under the bus” by the busload these days (pun intended).
• “At this point in time”. How about simply saying “Now”?
• “Control your own destiny”. This favorite of sports talking heads makes no sense. “Destiny”, by definition, means “fate”, at least according to Mr. Webster. If something is fated, it is out of the control of the individual or team, even if the team is as great as the New York Yankees…oops, that was the Yankee team of eons past. The new Yankees apparently just forgot how to control their own destiny.
• “It’s” instead of “its” – and vice versa. This one is so simple that anyone who misuses them should be sentenced to 14 hours of continuous listening to rap “music” or 18 hours of Barry Manilow. “It’s” means “it is”. It’s a contraction. “Its” is possessive, as in “controlling its own destiny…”
• “At the end of the day”. How about “finally” – or what if the conclusion is to take place later than the end of the day?
• “We won because God’s on our side”. Really? I didn’t realize that God picked one team, boxer, runner or whatever, over another. I pity the loser(s) who apparently offended God. That’s very sad.
• Speaking of “whatever”, that’s the worst use of a word to dispose of a subject without the ability to address it intelligently.
• “The bottom line” is perfectly o.k. in accounting and corporate jargon. Enough is enough. If used in other contexts I contend that I don’t know anyone who has a line on his/her bottom. So there.
• “There are two sides to every story”. No, there aren’t. What, for example, is the other side to child molestation or genocide? At the risk of offending those who have been raised accepting the “two sides” stuff I contend that sometimes stories may have only one side.
• “The French [fill in your own group] are rude”. Nonsense. Not all Frenchmen or women, or even New Yorkers, are rude. As Justice Holmes once said, “All generalizations are false, including this one.” Let’s please, like, stop making generalizations about people and, like, their use of language. Whatever.