One of my favorite comics recently ran a strip on the topic of a funeral for the word “said.” It’s a word (they insisted) we no longer use and we can thus have a formal ceremony acknowledging its passing. We have thrown it away and now we hear: “I’m like,” and “She goes,” then “he goes,” and Fred’s all like”…. you get the picture.
Another word that seems to have passed away is the word “take.” We used to take things there and bring them here. Now we bring things everywhere. Lazy folks we are. We also find ourselves “laying around” instead of “lying around.” We forget that “lay” is a transitive verb requiring an object. We lay something or someone, but if I were laying around I would expect to see an egg after I got up — or perhaps a I am a slut! We also can’t tell when to say “I” or “me.” Folks who like to pass themselves off as educated opt for the former in almost all cases so we get things like “It is all the same to Sally and I.” We know this is wrong since if we forgot all about Sally we would get something like “It’s all the same to I.” We know that can’t be right.
But one of the really interesting things is the way we use the word “up” at the end of so many phrases. We say “listen up!” or we say “button up,” or “zip up,” or “shut up,” “heads up,” “back up,” “lock up,” “wake up,” “wait up,” the list goes on. And why? It doesn’t help the meaning any. Oh yes, there’s another little word that creeps in uninvited from time to time as when we say “It’s not that big of a deal,” when we mean to say “It’s not that big a deal.” The “of” really doesn’t belong. It’s just a waste of words when we could use them wisely elsewhere — as in the case of “take” or “lie.”
And there is another little word that is in danger of disappearing — if the folks at Weather Channel have their way. That’s the word “in.” They simply don’t seem to need it even though they say things like “the weather into Chicago is rather warm today.” I always thought “into” suggested movement, but they seem to think “into” works perfectly well wherever you want to use it, though it makes me a bit nauseated when I hear those “experts” saying it (not nauseous as some would have it. The latter is an adjective and describes such things as odors and sights; the former is an adverb and works well to describe feelings. Sheldon Cooper pointed that out to his friends on “The Big Bang” several years ago).
My problem is that I hang out with a good friend who teaches English to undergraduates. We tend to cry in our G&Ts about the sorry state of language in this country (not to mention politics). But, these are just words and I am being a pedant — knowing that no one likes a pedant. Sorry. Its tiresome, though, reading and writing about Donald Trump so much — who is verbally challenged, to say the least, and it makes me feel a bit nauseated to think of him.
In the end, however, we do need words to communicate and if everyone is playing a different language game it makes communication impossible. This would be a serious problem if people were listening to one another, but since that doesn’t seem to be happening much any more perhaps I am simply spitting into the wind ….. again.