Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm, like, wondering, like . . .

About something related to a discussion on one of my author loops. It has to do with English usages -- words, phrases, various idiomatic expressions -- that become associated with particular periods of time and certain places. For example, "the cat's meow" and "twenty-three skidoo" are pure Roaring Twenties. "Groovy" is hippie-speak. Then I started wondering if older people of bygone eras got irritated by trendy additions to the language.

Yup, probably. Because I know how irritated I get, old biddy that I am. (I'm groovy, but I'm still an old biddy.)

Recently, I saw a teenage girl on some TV show (I think it was "Children of the Paranormal") trying to explain . . . something. Dicked if I could figure out what it was. She was American, so English was her native language. But every sentence she uttered was hacked up by insertions of the word like. She couldn't utter four syllables without sticking in a like. She flung around likes as if she had a salt shaker full of 'em! For the life of me, I couldn't grasp what point she was trying to make.

Brits seem to do this with the phrase sort of. (Is that the one? Or am I thinking of another pointless phrase?) Anyway, both drive me apeshit. Or is it batshit? (What animal's doodoo is currently associated with craziness? I can't keep track.)

American gangsta urbanites are very fond of this: "Y'know what I'm sayin'?" It's spoken rapidly after every declarative sentence. And it, too, pulls my apeshit/batshit trigger.

Then there's "awesome." I think this word should be stricken from the language for the next ten years. Maybe, when it's brought back, it will be used properly and in moderation.

What does it for you? 'Cause I know I'm not the only curmudgeon, groovy or otherwise, who's driven apeshit/batshit by certain contemporary usages. (Please tell me I'm not!) And I know I've only scratched the surface of this topic.


Tam said...

I believe batshit is the guano du jour these days.

The like thing makes me crazy. I'm okay with awesome. Cool still works.

Hmmm. Besides "like" and "um" every two words "Just spit it out damn it!" I'm pretty easy going. I suppose "Ya know?" at the end of every sentence. Basically it's repetitive for me. If you say something every 5th word for sentence after sentence I'm going to smack you. Excessive use of dude. Once in a while fine, not constantly. As I said, repetitive. (Which is a damn hard word to type.)

K. Z. Snow said...

"I believe batshit is the guano du jour these days."

:-D That's freakin' clever, dude!

Ugh, yeah. I hate "dude" too, especially when it's applied to a female.

But "cool" will always be cool and "hip" will always be hip, as far as I'm concerned.

(A lot of words are hard to type. I've been noticing that more and more.)

Chris said...

"Like" and "Y'know" are oldies - my mom used to fuss about them. They are, sadly, if one is prone to picking up the language ticks of others (um, yes, that would be me), easy to pick up and harder to get rid of. I like using "Dude," but I tend to use it mockingly. Pretty sure I just use "Awesome" (with awesome sauce!) online.

K. Z. Snow said...

Chris...[see me waving my finger] tsk, tsk, tsk.

Val said...

Oh, KZ, I'm a sponge for these kind of things! I say Dude! (to everybody), Totally!, to the max, awesome, and no way! just constantly. I also overuse the word so as in, "I SO don't want to do this." There is also total as in, "I'm such a total sponge for these kind of things."

You'll be relieved to know, though, that even I can't stand the "like" thing or the "you know?" thing. And I wince at myself every time I use the word cool because I know I can do better than that. And, now that you got me thinking about it, I'm not very fond of "LOL" which we all see as part of online-speak. Great, thought-provoking post!

(By the way, I'm halfway through Fugly, and really enjoying it. I mean, totally! To the max! :)

Chris said...


K. Z. Snow said...

"Oh, KZ, I'm a sponge for these kind of things! I say Dude! (to everybody), Totally!, to the max, awesome, and no way!"

Val, my finger is getting tired. I'd have it wave it at you so many times for so many reasons, the damned thing would likely fall off.

I am so not going to enable you.

K. Z. Snow said...

I'm curious (why, yes I am!) Do you both, like, call your mothers or grandmothers "dude"? Would you, like, call President Obama "dude"?

Val said...

I would totally call Pres. Obama, "Dude." Pres Reagan or --ha, ha -- Pres. Nixon? Most assuredly not. JFK? I could SO see myself calling him that!

Jenre said...

My kids use the 'like' word a lot, something they've picked up from watching too much US TV. It makes me laugh at the moment, but may become more irritating as they get older.

I use 'sort of' quite a bit *shame*. I also terribly overuse phrases such as 'I have to say/admit' and 'to be honest' in my reviews, all of which are empty phrases but make the tone of my reviews more conversational which is a style I like to use (that's my excuse, anyway :)).

My son gets terribly embarrassed when hub and I come out with trendy vernacular. The word 'cool' is banned, as is 'wicked'. I'm afraid I just can't bring myself to use 'sick' as a superlative.

I suppose language is chock full of empty phrases - take swear words or exclamations, for example - but it all spices up the words we say - otherwise we'll all end up sounding like robots :).

K. Z. Snow said...

Val, I want to be there when that happens. Should we try to crash a White House party? :-)

Jen, I can imagine kids being influenced in all kinds of undesirable ways by American TV -- my sympathies to you. But you just tell them you're allowed to use "cool." It's been around so long, it's become a standard term in the language.

I don't get the "sick" usage either. It's, well, just sick.

Pause fillers in spoken language are to be expected, as long as they don't overwhelm the content of one's message. Few of us are articulate enough to gather and orally present our thoughts without some hesitation. But this every-other-word degree of frequency is distracting, to say the least, and makes the speaker sound like a freaking moron.

I don't consider exclamations or curses unnecessary. They add an expressive dimension to the language, as you said. I know I'd be lost without 'em. Hell, yeah! And those transitional phrases such as "to be honest" or "by the way" serve a purpose as well. They're like little directional signs.

Val said...

Val, I want to be there when that happens.

Ha, ha! It will be memorable.

And what Jen said -- "wicked" is a great New England regional expression which I enjoy hearing or reading in dialog, but I can't bring it off with my western American accent so I don't even try. I think you need to have a Boston or Jersey accent at least to attempt it.

And "sick"? That's just totally weird. It could even be said to be grody. Or gnarly.

Kris said...

Since I clearly overuse 'awesome' I think I might go and hide in my closet for a little while now.

K. Z. Snow said...

Your closet? You think a puny closet is going to protect you? Hahahahahaha!

Lily said...

Dude, your post is um, like, you know, so totally cool and awesome!

Nuff said! :)

K. Z. Snow said...

Lily, you of all people...

(I've waved my finger. I've tsked. I've sent Castanet to find Kris in her closet. And you all are still acting up. Honestly, it's like a classroom full of third graders.)