Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How to avoid sounding like an idiot this year

Certain slang words and phrases have run their course, and need to removed from the lexicon. It's time for a language audit.

How to avoid sounding like an idiot this year

Using annoying slang can make you look like a dunce. (iStock photo)
Using annoying slang can make you look like a dunce. (iStock photo)

It's time for an audit of our slang.

Esquire and The Huffington Post both recently published lists of words, behaviors, and expressions that have run their course and need to come to an end. While I can’t agree with every nomination, both lists highlight some intolerable language habits that desperately need to be put down. Among them:

At the End of the Day, It Is What It Is. “Across this great land, roughly 500,000 times a day, one person says this to another person, who nods in agreement, neither of them realizing that they've just participated in the emptiest experience two people can have. No more.” [Esq.]

Calling Something the Best _____ Ever. "You can still do this as long as you only do it once in your life. Only one thing can be the best thing ever, so you'd better think long and hard about that scone before you open your mouth.” [Esq.]

Cray (Or Cray-Cray ). Crazy just sounds better. Or one of the ten million synonyms for crazy. … When I hear you say "cray" I think you were going to talk about Crayola crayons and had a brain freeze or else Robert Cray, who happens to be a pretty badass blues guitarist. [Huffpo]

Feels. As in, "This story hit me right in the feels" or "oh my feels!" or "so many feels". You experienced an emotion. That photo session, the one where the guy's wife passed away and he recreated their wedding photos with his toddler daughter? WE ALL CRIED. I cried like a tired baby on my couch for a good half hour. They caused feelings, not feels. See also: "I eat my feelings" vs. "I eat my feels". Which one rolls off the tongue with more ease and less irony? No more feels. Please. [Huffpo]

Right Now As in, "Are you kidding me right now?" and "Are you serious right now?" A totally unnecessary utterance that takes time away from constantly saying "figuratively." [Esq.]

Basically, if you speak like James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowel in that hilarious Sprint commercial, you can’t expect to be taken seriously.

I submit these words and phrases for retirement as well:

[Event happened], because of course it did. Like “it is what it is,” this is a nothing statement that doesn’t bear saying. If it was funny the first time, it’s not anymore.

Everything you need to know about [subject]. Unless the topic is so inconsequential that it barely warrants attention, such titles should be reserved for tomes.

Because, (noun). Dear God. If there is one way to sound like a snarky, petulant fool, it’s to debase the perfectly good conjunction “because” by following it with a single word rather than form a complete thought as dictated by grammar. I don’t have to explain why this is grammatically incorrect. Do I?

#Hashtags as punchlines. “Looks like I’ll have to settle for a standard black iPhone. #FirstWorldProblems” While we’re at it, let’s retire “first world problems” too.

Just Sayin’. Adding this statement to one’s argument does little more than invalidate any previous claim. I’m still waiting for a Supreme Court justice to use this in a dissenting opinion.

Science says. No, science didn’t say anything. Unless you magically have the entire field of science going on record to make an audible claim, say the actual source. (e.g. “Studies show that,” or “new research suggests,” or "scientists claim.") While new studies often challenge previous understanding, science itself is not so capricious as to change its mind each time new research is published.

STOP EVERYTHING and ... Again? I just resumed my life after heeding the order to drop what I was doing to read Kanye West’s unintelligible rant, and watch a cat playing with a slinky before that. Enough.

Meta. As in, “The new Beyonce album is just so meta.” This one is interesting in that it's used in an attempt to sound learned, but exposes the speaker as someone who doesn't read. “Meta” means "beyond" in Latin, and in English is predominantly used as a prefix, as in “metaphysics” or “metacarpal.” Stop trying to make “meta” happen. It isn’t going to happen.

Ratchet. This word is acceptable as a noun meaning a toothed bar or socket wrench, or as a verb meaning to move up or down by degrees. Unacceptable: As an adjective meaning of low quality. There are ample adjectives for this.

That is all.  Previously, this was accomplished by a little dot known as a period.

The coolest cool to ever cool. Is your vocabulary that limited that you must resort to using variations of the same word three times? Can you not produce an actual verb or an adjective to modify the object? I know this hardly matters to the worst offenders, but such phrasing is rarely grammatically correct. You don’t sound funny. You don’t sound silly. You sound like the dumbest dummy to ever dumb.

THIS! Yes? What about it?

Turnt up. Perhaps the most annoying thing about this phrase is its user’s insistence on inserting it into any situation that it might mean something. Whether it’s intended to mean “drunk,” “excited,” or anything else, it doesn’t really mean anything.

Yes, language evolves. Sometimes new words enter the lexicon and enrich our language. William Shakespeare invented countless words that are commonly used in everyday speech today. Even the new and admittedly annoying word “selfie” serves a definite purpose. Prior to the invention of smart phones with cameras, there was no need for such a word. Now we have one. “Selfie” serves a purpose.

But unlike "selfie" or Shakespeare’s contributions, none of the slang words or phrases discussed above fulfill any need in our language. Feel free to continue using the above phrases in obvious jest. Otherwise, the joke's on you.

Enjoy watching two fine actors mock such language in the familiar commercial, and share your nominations for the slang chopping block in the comments below.

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