To: The World
From: Mitch Berg
Re: This Say I
This is in re the phrase “What Say You?”. It’s been popping up a lot in conversation over this past few years.
What say me? Me say “It’s a linguistic anachronism that’s become a pretentious cliche”, that’s what me say.
Me say kill with fire.
That is all.
Watching yesterday’s saturation coverage of the Kacey Anthony case, I watched a piece on “the nation’s reaction to the verdict”.
The reporter – NBC’s Jeff Rosson – mentioned that he was in the airport when the verdict was read. And he said “People were literally glued to the TV”.
No. People were figuratively glued to the TV. Nobody was physically adhered to a screen.
It’s time for misuse of “literally” to be, figuratively, killed with fire.
Or maybe literally.
My semi-annual Linguistic Hit Lists haven’t completely changed the language – but they’ve made a good start.
My demands for the extinction of the terms”Bloggy”, ”Truthy/truthiness”, “take (something) to the next level” and “Dee di deeeee”have been largely very effective; most are considered signs of bad breeding today.
The war on “Hel-looo” is also proceeding apace; it seems to be on the ropes, although pockets still occur in various hYpStR bars and high schools here and there.
“It Is What It Is” is a stubborn one – something of a linguistic cockroach, or the Taliban in Helmand Province, it’s actually made a bit of a comeback. I will declare a linguistic surge against this piece of language rot.
“Internets” is a somewhat troubling case, inasmuch as like most technology-related terms it is easily replaced by other equally noxious forms – “intertubes”, “interwebs”, “interbloggies” or whatever the fine flaming flexible fowl the “I think I sound hip, but I really sound like I lobotomized myself with a drinking straw” crowd comes up with. This will be a long fight, but I know in my heart we will be victorious.
But while there is a long way to go on some of my previous linguistic hits, we must redouble our efforts. So I am going to add some new terms for 2010:
- Processes, when pronounced “prah-sess-EEZ”. A standard oldie-but-goodie of the not-that-bright execu-drone who wants to sound like he’s talking two levels above his pay grade or education level, this phrase actually would justify a new corporate McCarthyism to actively stigmatize its users. Worse, an even more malignant dialect version ,”prO-sess-EEZ”, with a long “O”, is appearing, showing that this term may be undergoing an even more pretentious, “one-upping” version. We’ll need to redouble our efforts to scourge this one.
- “Don’t Be That Guy”. Within the past year, this phrase, which started with people who auditioned for “Jersey Shore” but were improbably too stupid and shank-headed to make the cut, has made huge inroads into the language. Preferred responses when confronted with it: “No, genius – I’m THAT guy”. Extra credit; sing “Single malt, football, war flicks, THAT GUY, Hot Wings, bratwurst … Is THAT GUYYYYYY – he’s dripping on fresh paint; he’s everything THAT GUY aaaaaiiiiint“. It usually shuts them up. This one is going critical, folks. (Note my clever swoop into retro; “going critical” was on not a few hit lists ten years ago. Yes, it is a little like playing with old explosives; don’t try it unless you’re a licensed Linguistic Engineer).
- It Is What It Is – I’m putting this cliche, the favorite cliche refuge of the faux-zen bizspeaker, back on the hit list for a record second time; my goal is that by the end of this year we can look at the phrase and realize it was what it was.
It’s a short list, but an important one. Let’s keep our language free of this kind of bilge, shall we?
As part of my continuing mission to make the English language suck less, I’m going to continue my quest to have certain words and phrases dragged out behind the outhouse and shot in the face.
- “Political Kabuki” – May anyone that uses this phrase for any non-ironic reason (and most ironic ones, frankly) be forced to commit political seppuku.
- Fo Shizzle – while it was passé for white guys to add “izzle” to words a la Snoop Dogg even before Mr. Dogg started the trend, I think we now have ample reason to take anyone who carries on the tradition and make them a pizzle. And I’m not talking Snoop-talk.
- “Brah” – This is the white-trash variant on “Bro”. It happens because the vowel “ah” takes less muscular effort in the face than the more-conventional “o” sound in “Bro”. Its recent popularity shows that Orwell was right; decades of lowest-common-denominator education have begun turning our language into “Duckspeak”, an unintelligible brand of gibberish. Anyway – for the sake of freedom, to say nothing of the language – say “Bro”, or just keep your gabbling gob shut.
- “Developing” in reference to a “story” on a blog – you are not a news operation, and the story is not “developing”; you just ran out of stuff to write about, and you’re not very bright to begin with.
That is all.
UPDATE: Ed from Eagan writes to note “[Brah] is Hawaiian, FYI. It’s not a white-trash variant on Bro, although it may seem that way when you watch Dog the Bounty Hunter. ;-)”
Very well. Say “Brah” until the poi get submerged in pohoehoe. IN Hawaii. You can hang out at the
drop-in counseling center bail bond shop with Dog the Bounty Hunter and say it all day! Just not here on the mainland.
I’m starting to find my power, here. A few years ago, I demanded that “bloggy” and all derivatives thereunto appertaining be excised from the language. I haven’t seen it much lately. It is a sweet victory indeed, and I claim all credit.
And while my recent demands for the extermination of “Internets”,”Truthy/truthiness”, “Dee di deeeee”, “Hel-looooo” and “It Is What It Is” are still developing, I feel it important to add to the hit list.
To “take (something) to the next level” is the next victim of my one-man linguistic purge.
Don’t say it. Don’t tolerate others saying it.
Periodically, I take out (rhetorical) contracts on bits and pieces of the English language that need to be communally expunged.
Every once in a while, it seems to work. A few years ago, I demanded that the word “bloggy” disappear from the language. It’s been a while since I’ve seen that linguistic abomination in print.
So it’s time for another round of linguistic executions.
- “Internets”: Usually used ironically – to show how very much more clever the user is than the madding hordes on the “internets” – the term is an offshoot of the ancient (in Internet terms) Usenet habit of taking a newbie mistake and making it part of the vocabulary (“This is sucks” – alt.aol.sucks, 1993). The problem is, to be anything but ironic, these turnabouts are predicated on the user actually being more clever than the person committing the malaprop. A casual reading shows this rarely to be the case. Please stop.
- “Truthy” (“truthiness”): When everything is “ironic” all the time, then nothing is ironic. And if we extinguished not only the word but the concept, perhaps John Stewart would be able to do something other than the same show, week in, week out, forever and ever, amen…
- “Dee di deeeee!”: Unless you are Carlos Mencia, using this phrase suits you better to be a target than a user of the phrase. You’ve been warned. Not Carlos? No se va.
- “Hel-looooo?”: Time for a new phrase to indicate your nonplussment at your fellow human’s concentrated denseness (in your enlightened opinion).
- “It Is What It Is”: Like “going forward” and “at this point in time”, after about two trillion uses, It Is meaningless.