The English language is abundantly blessed with words, often many meaning the same but each one with a slightly different nuance.
Do you get the idea?
Do you understand my drift?
Both broadly mean the same, but the first is more specific, the second has a slightly vaguer feel to it.
Reading around the internet, blogs and poorly written articles on news sites, I felt like banging my head on poor Hal laptop.
It must be my age.
I wrote before about how awesome has me reaching for the sick bucket, closely followed by ‘stuff’.
It’s rather like when I was starting out in journalism, and I was instructed not to use the word facilities. It was too general. If someone was going to provide toilets, say so (can’t remember what else facilities referred to).
We couldn’t use erection either but that was for a different reason, eg erection of a garden shed. They always had to be constructed or built. But definitely not erected.
So which words have got up the Cloudy Roughseas nose this week?
Here we go:
It’s on a par with awesome. I think it is meant to mean, I agree with what you say, you are a considerate person, you write thoughtfully, blah blah, but it’s much easier to say you rock. And in point of fact, I don’t rock. Unless I have had far too much to drink.
• figurative (of a place) have an atmosphere of excitement or much social activity : the new town really rocks | [as adj. ] ( rocking) a rocking resort.
• informal: this game totally rocks; be impressive, informal kick butt, blow one away, blow one’s mind, rock one’s world, be cool, be on fire.
This is not a gripe at the gender-specific aspect of the phrase, but rather I find it irritating, sloppy, informal and slangy. [See, I told you my age was showing through]
In fact, You guys rock, you are awesome, is possibly the worst combination of all.
I’m down with
Down with who? Status Quo? (Down, down deeper and down) or where?
[Status Quo incidentally came to Gib a few years ago. Brilliant. Like all the other tight-arses we stood outside the concert venue and peeked through to vaguely see them but listened to the music for free. In fact looking at that 1975 vid I think I could get a retrospective crush on the one with the long straight hair playing guitar and singing ….]
Back to down with ..
Apparently this one means that you get on with people.
Or you agree with them, or you are homosexual. Well why not say any or all of those. I’m down (with) is just meaningless.
If I say something like that it would be on the lines of:
I’m down in the chicken shed
down at the bottom of the garden.
Example of usage:
‘like, you know,’ to neatly combine the two.
Both valid ghastly words/phrases.
And one I learned a while ago, that left me scratching my head – the get-go. Get-go is actually in my computer’s dictionary much to my surprise, but there again, Hal is American. I managed to work out that get-go refers to beginning or start, eg ‘from the get-go’ means from the beginning. So why not say so?
What else have I noticed?
Well, a few grammatical errors.
I will hold up my hand and say I always proof read, hit publish and then find something else that is wrong.
For some reason I have developed an irritating habit of writing now instead of know. They aren’t even pronounced the same, and yet the sneaky k disappears from the front.
On other blogs I’ve noticed where instead of were, and the classic confusion of affect and effect.
As in: to affect a change (um, don’t think so)
we were effected by this (really?)
I’m currently having to curb myself from using extremely, which I am currently over-using. Rather like currently. I like it because it seems more emphatic than very. However as soon as we start to overuse words, they lose their emphasis, and that’s the point of this piece.
Overusing lazy slang words because we can’t be bothered to think of more precise vocabulary, and overusing swearing, takes away from their meaning and results in sloppy and mediocre writing.
There is a place for informality, slang and swearing. But it should be the exception rather than the rule.
Nor is this a post directed at people with dyslexia or who have had a crap education and can not spell.
I was on a forum where someone was dyslexic and persevered to write posts, in spite of some inconsiderate toerags criticising his spelling.
I thought he was brave to continue with his posts, and admired him. It wasn’t even difficult to read what he wrote.
But there is a difference between a) sloppy use of language b) using text speak when writing and c) mis-spelling for whatever reason.
Most of us can do something about the first two. A lot of people can’t do anything about the third one.
If you have a good education, think about the words you use, choose them carefully and consider yourself extremely privileged. If you have problems spelling, for whatever reason, don’t feel intimidated, and write what you want.
So long as it isn’t ‘You guys are awesome, you rock.’
ETA: there are some good examples from readers below, so do read their views about words to avoid and pet peeves.