Words We Would Expunge From the English Language
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
People do goofy things to the English language, and it would be better if more of you called them on their foolishness. Since you don’t, we will amuse ourselves by doing that here, and even expunge (as if) certain sayings from the lexicon of the English speaking world.
In the last several years, people began saying they are over it, when they are actually fed up or repulsed, as opposed to the actual meaning of over it—that a matter is a thing of the past and no longer bothers you.
It sounds as if they are deeply attached to something, or someone, then moved on, but that’s not what they mean, or is it? Hard to tell. If really annoyed they say, I’m so over it. We might justifiably call this teenage mutant English.
To be over something (write this down) means it no longer bothers you, the bad feelings are gone (not the opposite). It doesn’t mean anything else. So, we hereby expunge this confused use of over it from the English language. And if you don’t like it, well, get over it.
Next comes sketchy and our ruling on that word, the actual meaning being not thorough or detailed, resembling a sketch; a mere outline without substance. Someone might ask, What did you think of that business proposal?, and you might reply, It was sketchy, need to hear more details before I make a decision.
Lately though, people use the word to describe a person who is suspicious or creepy. Described as sketchy, he is actually an unsavory character, not sketchy, in that he bears no resemblance to a sketch (unless it’s a sketch of Mickey Rourke). Again, expunged from the English language, but we’re probably too late, as with other items targeted here.
Language evolves, we know that, and there is such a thing as urban slang, but language also devolves. No need to hurry it along. That which determines if a word makes it into the English language (accor-ding to the Oxford English Diction-ary) is whether it’s a fad or not, its longevity. So, about now, we in our small way, as a voice crying in the wilderness, are recommending certain expressions for the etymological trash can (OED folks will read this, of course, and take note). When’s the last time, for example, you heard anyone say rad, gnarly, totally tubular, or the cat’s pajamas? Expunged, all, by popular will, the people have spoken (or not).
Next comes the most foolish fad phrase by far in modern Farsi, I mean English (if only English began with an F), so stupid we can’t wait until the end of this article to expunge it, and that phrase is my bad. People think they’re bad when they say it but sound goofy instead, like they’re two years old and can’t talk. Jennifer Anniston said it on Jay Leno, hoping people would think she was hip, but she wasn’t (nice hips though). Thank God my bad’s shelf life has about expired. It’s like so 2007.
Speaking of two year olds, when did grown ups start saying You’re not the boss of me? A toddler might speak this silly phrase, but we hear adults saying it. There’s no boss of anything. Someone is just the boss, or your boss. How did people get so infantile? —Expunged.
Here’s one they now say on so-called TV news shows: Take a listen. Heads up talking heads, listen isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. Nobody takes a listen anywhere. They should take a hike instead. This one is pitiful, and hereby expunged from the English language. Take it from the boss.
These terms, while unfit for duty, may take root, like knapweed, and perhaps already have. We have no power to reverse this pernicious trend (we have tens-of-thousands of readers, hard copy and online, but they are, of course, a drop in the bucket compared to billions of English speakers worldwide). This next case, though, has no place anywhere in the world. It is not a question of fad or usage, it is simply incorrect, yet we hear it slip from the lips of those who should know better.
The “word” is supposably.
Should be supposedly, of course, but the third syllable is too hard to enunciate for those perpetually stranded in their tongue-tied terrible twos—they slur over it and detour into supposably. Has the effect of fingernails on a blackboard but they seem not to care. There are those on editorial boards of sketchy dictionary publishers who may, one day, and this is depressing, consider legitimizing this bastardization or classify it as pending approval. These are the same folks who would legitimize irregardless (after several hits off their communal bong).
A list exists of sketchy terms for which we are too late to remedy (okay, sketchy is kind of catchy). They have already insinuated themselves into the language, like fleas on a dog, words like awesome, sweet, and dude. The latter makes those who use it sound stoned or dim-witted, except a select few who can get away with it (Tony V, and Jazz musicians). Some even call females dude, when a dude is by definition a man. Its village idiot cousin would be bra’ (the caucasian attempt at the ebonic pronunciation for brother). People ought to know a bra is a woman’s undergarment. So, it’s like calling your homey a panty waist, and unless you’re very urban black, you best not attempt it at all, cuz it certainly ain’t pronounced bra, dude.
In defense of awesome, it follows the tradition of words like fantastic, terrific and absolutely that once had a different (but now compromised) meaning. Yet we use these words regularly without a second thought. At the same time, the mindless use of awesome over the last thirty-five years has neutered a once great word, one that had to do with awe and the things that inspire it. It all started with 1970s Toyota commer-cials in which the husky voice-over intoned this now run-down word, inspiring a gullible generation to pluck it from literary respectability and drag it through the back alley of pop-culture speak. Sad—their bad.
Note: Send us your picks for terms that should be expunged or that simply rub you the wrong way—for amusement, publication, or in the interest of justice.