The Ottumwa Courier

Columns

June 24, 2013

Banning the bafflegab

'At the end of the day' these overused words, phrases really need to go!

OTTUMWA — I’m “like” we really need to ban some of these worn-out, annoying words and phrases that have crept into our daily language.

“Just sayin’.” I just wanted to “share that with you.” This could be a “teachable moment.”

Ahhh!!

Horses retire, generals retire, Larry King retires. Why can’t we retire some of these words and phrases? No one’s saying “swell” or “neato” or “radical” anymore. If we work together, it can be done.

Language affects the way we think, feel, interpret the world and experience life. Some of this rigmarole doesn’t add anything to the conversation. Some of it really doesn’t mean anything! And I like conversation. So let’s conversate.

It’s ‘like’ ... what?

I am sitting at a bar and grill minding my own business, but I can’t help overhear a couple of young women in deep conversation.

“I’m like ....” “And then he’s like ...” “So I’m like ... and so I left him stranded in the middle of nowhere. Showed him!”

“Oh, I know, my boyfriend’s the same way,” the other responds. “I’m like ...” “Then he’s all ...” “So I’m like .... and so now he’ll watch the movies I like once in awhile, or else! Just sayin’.”

After listening to this for a half hour, my head was swimming. I’m thinking to myself: “Like” shut up. Sorry, but for the love of God, stop saying “Like!”

It’s “like” getting really annoying. My head “like” may explode if you keep saying “like” every four words! I don’t think they even realize they’re doing it. It’s “like” contagious too.

If aliens landed and overheard this conversation, they would get back in their spaceship and “like” fly off to another planet before it rubbed off on them.

In this conversation, they also would always end their points with with “you know what I’m sayin’?”

No I don’t. I don’t know what you’re saying. I know you’re butchering the English language. But, that’s about it.

This isn’t to say you have to speak the Queen’s English like John Kerry when he ran for president and told a NASCAR crowd, “Who among us does not love NASCAR?”  Yes, who? Who among us? Raise your glasses, a toast to NASCAR! This one’s for the Queen! Here, Here! I don’t know if Kerry ever connected with the NASCAR crowd, but at least he didn’t say “like.”

But you can’t pick on young people’s obsession with “like” and “just sayin’” too much until you look at politicians’ addiction with “At the end of the day.”

‘At the end of the day’

Politicians on the Sunday news shows cannot abstain from saying, “At the end of the day.” They’ve put together montages of politicians, 20 in a row, saying, “At the end of the day.”

But, what does that mean? “At the end of the day” it really adds nothing to the conversation.

The politicians will say this phrase all day long ... until the end of the day.

“At the end of the day, this bill will pass.” Stop that!

“At the end of the day, you can see my political opponent is clearly a fool.” Stop saying that! Give the phrase a rest.

Maybe a shock collar zapping them each time they say it could help us deep-six this worn catchphrase.

Let’s just use “at the end of the day” when talking about dusk or nighttime.

‘I would like to share something with you’

This is a corporate phrase that has taken over office cubicles across the country. “Can I share something with you?”

What food? Money? What are we talking about?

Otherwise no thanks. Just keep it to yourself. I’m doing just fine. You keep your information over there, and I’ll keep my information over here. Let’s just be selfish.

“Sharing” is similar to “FYI” — which translates to, “Here’s some worthless information you’ll never use. FYI!” Oh, thanks. I’ll just file that over here under “Who gives a rat’s %$*#.”

‘Can I be honest with you?’

No, not really. I guess it all depends. Is it nice? Otherwise, that’s OK. Just keep it to yourself.

When you hear this question, it’s best to brace yourself. It’s not even a real question! It’s a setup for brutal honesty. Whoo!

“Can I be honest with you ... I’ve never liked you.” Oh, thanks for filling me in — that was honest. Brutally honest.

Actually, I’d rather you lied to me if it’s not nice. I can handle a “phony nice” a heck of a lot better than an “honest mean.”

‘A teachable moment’

A lot of people don’t realize it’s actually legal to strike someone when they say this phrase.

Say you’re risking your life changing a tire on a jam-packed, busy roadway and someone pulls up and yells out the window, “This is a teachable moment!” It helps, doesn’t it?

“I am aware! Thank you!” It’s always helpful to let someone know when they are an unprepared dimwit. It’s a “teachable moment,” and I appreciate the constructive criticism, you ... darn guy you!

Phrases with  immunity clauses

Some phrases apparently give you a license to do just the opposite and be kind of be rude along the way.

“Not to be petty,” then they’re petty.

“Not to be petty, but in the last five minutes you’ve dangled two prepositions, a participle and your shoelace is untied, you twit! But, not to be petty.”

Why is it when people say, “No offense” they turn around and offend you?

Or when they say “No disrespect” they then disrespect you?

“No offense, and no disrespect either, but you are a dull-witted dweeb. No offense though.”

Oh, well no offense taken. Thanks for “sharing” and softening the blow. I can tell you still respect me.

I ‘misspoke’ and   it is ‘unfortunate’

“Misspoke” and “unfortunate” are softened words politicians use to cover up their mistakes.

“It’s ‘unfortunate’ I said  my political opponent is a shiftless dolt. I ‘misspoke.’”

What? Misspoke? No you didn’t. Misspoke means you accidentally said one word instead of another — like saying Iraq when you meant Iran. It doesn’t mean you accidentally said your political opponent is a horrible person up to no good. That’s not misspeaking and it’s not unfortunate. It’s stupid!

Politicians and celebrities will often sprinkle these words into statements prepared by their publicists and lawyers after they screw up.

Let me save you some time by translating these statements, and you’ll never have to read one of these statements again. Here’s the translation: “I’m sorry I got caught doing or saying something stupid. I’m sorry if I offended any of you overly sensitive, politically correct pinheads. Now can we move on already?”

But the statement will read, “I ‘misspoke’ and it’s very ‘unfortunate.’”

Purge some of  the gibberish

I know some of you are saying: “Why don’t you get off your high horse about language?”

HIGH HORSE! HIGH HORSE! WELL I NEVER!

But, “if I can be honest with you,” I do think we can leave some of this tired, overused  rhetoric behind. By changing our habitual language, “at the end of the day” we change how we experience life. Let’s speak with more original ... pizzazz. “Share” this with your friends.

“I’m just sayin’.”

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