Maybe I am getting old. I remember a time when TV and water were free and pornography cost money. Now I’m certainly not a Grammar-Nazi or a word-nerd, especially given the locker-room opinions I spew weekly (some would say “weakly”). But people out there really need to focus on cleaning up their language, especially as it relates to overusing three words that are dumbing down the English language: “like,” “literally” and “amazing.”
For the 40-and-unders out there, you know how you use the word “like” in like every other sentence? Don’t!
When folks my age, those who can remember the TV show Cheers, interview you for a job, the use of the word “like” as some filler crutch word is maddening. And when done in a high-pitched, nasal, Kardashian-Valley Girl way, it’s akin to torturing us. It makes you seem vapid, imprecise and, quite frankly, stupid. This has gone on too long, and I have been meaning to say something about it. So, please, stop it.
You know how you kids use the word “amazing,” like, all the time? Don’t.
Witnessing your child’s birth is amazing. Your sandwich from Whole Foods is not “amazing.” Neither are the jeans Ashley just bought nor the top she wears with it. The synonyms in the dictionary for “amazing” include: astonishing, wonderment, astounding, stunning, shocking, breathtaking, spectacular, stupendous and phenomenal. Ashley’s jeans have been mass produced in a sweatshop in China for fifty years; there is nothing “amazing” about them. So please stop using “amazing” for anything mildly above average. People who are constantly “amazed” are low-IQ folks.
The words “like” and “amazing” tend to be used by young women. For some reason, the men of this generation have taken to ending their sentences with a groan or a tapered-off grunt. I’m not sure why that started happening, but it is also annoying. Please stop.
Maybe it is a primal noise whereby modern-day men, neutered in college by the system, become wussified men seeking to reclaim some sort of caveman-like aura. Look guys, you like to grow beards now, but you cannot change a tire or drive a stick shift car. So stop it with the Mumford and Sons persona. We ain’t buying it.
Lastly, you know how both men and women use the word “literally” way too often? Please stop.
“Literally” is a crutch word, one used when you are trying to bring emphasis to an otherwise boring story about yourself. I heard a guy say the other day, “It was literally raining cats and dogs.” Now unless there was an explosion at the humane shelter, this cannot “literally” be true. For “literally” to work, what you are saying must have a figurative meaning that is actually happening. That does not occur every other sentence when you are telling a story about you and your roommate Skeeter going to a concert.
If you use it too much, you can join a literary society: Americans Who Figuratively Use Literally, or A.W.F.U.L.
I get the colloquialism of the English who say “she’s in hospital” and African-Americans who use the word “ax.” In fact, I hear Unilever will soon market a new bodywash to white folks that they plan to call “Ask.” But please do not let the words “like,” “amazing” and “literally” get used as often and in the manner they are. It is just plain annoying.
While on her book tour to blame everyone but herself for losing the election, Hillary Clinton was asked about her reaction to the results: “I was gobsmacked.” Is it any wonder her use of awkwardly condescending words like “gobsmacked” did not appeal to the middle-class Deplorables in America? Say what you will about Trump, he speaks simply and in blue-collar language America understands, not in pretentious words meant to show how smart he is.
I blame these expensive, non-judgmental colleges we have which have been dispensing terrible educations for decades. If you are willing to borrow stupid amounts of money in student loans and pay these dope colleges, they will pretend to teach you anything. Cal Berkeley’s language department even offers — and I am not kidding here — HBO series Game of Thrones fictional language courses: “Dothraki for Students.” They are great courses if you are minoring in English and majoring in Letting Your Parents Down.