One of the hallmarks of getting older is that you start to notice ‘the parlance of our times’ changing. People start referring to ‘going forward’ (which, if you think about it, is an oblique recognition of the direction of previous behaviour, right?). Catchphrases have offspring: GenX to GenY, weblogger to blogger to vlogger (although that never really stuck did it. I bet Violet Blue’s glad she didn’t get that tattooed on her leg. And so also: what if yr an analytical logger?)

One of my pet hates has been when people say: “the thing is…is that”. What is that extra “is” doing there?! I’ve quietly (or not, ask my girlfriend) fumed about such unreflective distortions of language. I’m a hunnerd po-sent for the rejigging of language to better fit social cultural and personal needs, but not via brainless tics. So but, at this point, I’m ready to throw in the towel.

Barak Obama, surely the veronica of cultured vernacular verisimilitude, used the double skip is-is in a speech the other day. OK, fine, game over.

For the record, I’ve  always fussed like this about this kinda passive word misuse (except when I do it, no doubt). I remember the quiet itching of my then 8 year old brain,  listening to school friend scoop the ‘n’ off the already dialect laden an’ (and) to add to the phrase “used to”, creating the phrase “n’used to”, which could then be n’used in any sentence, irregardless of the presence of a preceding ‘and’ (much like the English use “innit” – or “isn’t it” if yr better spoken – as a question mark at the end of sentences regardless of  grammatical sense).

And I’m no wordy athlete neither: When Michael Pollan talks of ‘modifiers’ in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma (highly recommended BTW) I still think he’s talking about food (that stuff people put in coffee when they’re too dumb to use milk mebbe?) and though I just read DavidFoster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, with it’s gleeful smushing together of high and low language styles ([in Carl voice] …and how!), it did take me four months. I just think there’s a notable difference between, say, adding 50 layers of distortion to Ofra Haza’s voice for a particular effect, versus leaving the detuned radio on all nite cos yr deaf as a fencepost. Just sayin’ is all…

Advertisements