Language fads




Ever notice how we have fads in language, which like all fads grow and flourish until everybody is into it, then fade like a week-old Walmart flower.

When I was a kid, ‘geek’ meant a bit different than now, and was one of the most feared words in my young life.  On the other hand, ‘cool’ was definitely in, and over the years became so overused that it became definitely not cool to say ‘cool’.

Not so long ago it was ‘awesome’, everybody was calling everything awesome, so overworked that now it is not cool to say ‘awesome’. Awesome means to inspire awe, and things like a magnificent sunset, or a mountain panorama could inspire awe, but calling such things as a klik-and-ketchup sandwich  ‘awesome’ borders on ridiculous, or should I say ‘ludicrous’.

‘Ludicrous’ became so fashionable that it was being used when what was meant was ‘ridiculous’, or wrong, or mildly incongruous, or something to regret.  OK, if ludicrous and ridiculous were the same thing, we would not need them both, ludicrous means to inspire laughter, while ridiculous inspires ridicule.  Nothing our governments do could possibly inspire laughter and ‘ludicrous’ was misapplied most of the time.  Thank heavens that fad has faded.

More recently, we see the gross overuse of the word ‘decimated’, when what is meant is devastated, or destroyed, or catastrophic, or even mildly damaged.  In ancient times, if a unit of the Roman army disgraced itself, like by running from or even losing a battle, they could face being lined up, and every tenth soldier taken out of line and beheaded, or if really bad, crucified.  That is the origin of the word  ‘decimate’, (remove one in ten), although the Oxford English dictionary does allow ‘kill or remove a large portion of’’ as an alternate meaning.   We do not decimate nowadays, and thank heavens, that word seems to be fading from favour.

The most irritating recent fad is the waitress who sweetly asks ‘how is everything tasting?’  My first inclination is to bark ‘with my mouth and nose, like always.’  My second inclination is to say ‘oh, it tastes just fine, but the texture is a bit coarse, the meat a bit tough, it is not really hot, the presentation is uninspired,  and the service only fair!’  But of course, being a wimp, I just say ‘Oh, everything is just fine’, and skimp a bit on her tip.  The sooner this fad fades, the better for my mental health.

Just another Contrarian view. 


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