Most people, especially young people, are resourceful enough to “invent” a word, phrase or sentence to express a notion or sentiment.
What I need to protest is the necessity for touting these new expressions when we have a perfectly good English language from which to choose better words. “Better” means readily understandable to anyone hearing or reading the words.
For instance, I hear over and over “I know, right?” when someone is answering in agreement with another person who has expressed an opinion. Where did this come from? Why is it so acceptable as a substitute for “you’re absolutely right,” or “I think the same way” or “that should be obvious to everybody.”
Maybe it’s not truly “junkspeak” I’m protesting, but “quickspeak.” There’s LOL, BTW, OMG, HOO -RU and what have you done with my language? I agonized for an hour one day over “TYVM” in a text from a friend and finally had to resort to asking my grandchildren whether I was being insulted. What other nefarious feelings and information might be hiding in all those capital letters?
One poor ragged derelict hangover from the 1960s is still around – things can still be “cool” if they’re impressive enough. (But they can no longer be “groovy.”) The continuous use of “reverse” words as descriptions also can be aggravating, as in “he’s so bad” (meaning cool or good-looking), “killer” dress, shoes, pants or even a new item on a restaurant menu. Do you suppose that evolved from “to die for?”
Don’t even get me started on the 10 million euphemisms to describe things and actions not fit for public view. Most are fairly innocuous, but some are downright insulting.
Is it more, or less, improper and punishable in schools for students to speak aloud the “right name” of body parts, or a euphemism? Whatever the substitute may be, its meaning may not even be known to school teachers and administrators. I wonder if there’s a “current jargon” class every year so these adults can stay up-to-date on what the kids are really saying?
If I had to pick the Winners and Supreme Champions of Junkspeak, those would have to be legal documents, legislation and rapidly changing medical lexicon.
I recently picked up a prescription for an antibiotic to be taken “by oral route” instead of “by mouth.” That could have been intentional, since the pills looked large enough to be suppositories.
And heaven save us from “spokespersons” who don’t know how to speak.
One new high-powered spokesperson committed what I would think was an egregious error in his first “press conference” – so awful that had I been the boss, I would have fired him immediately. Here’s what he said: in reference to the President’s plan for reducing the number of federal jobs, he said “only where there’s duplicity.”
At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, since one would expect such a person to know the difference between “duplicity” and “duplication,” so he might have been talking about weeding the crooks out of the federal system. But then he later said, “So where there is a duplickitous job it will be eliminated.” His pronunciation.
Makes you wonder why “Esperanto” was laughed out of existence several decades ago when it was devised as a universal language easy to learn. Maybe its proponents are out there sneaking in all this junkspeak.
Oh, Kay – that’s so five minutes ago. (Or is that one gone too?)
Kay S. Pedrotti has spent some 50 years writing for newspapers. She lives in Milner with her husband Bob.