Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Please Stop Rolling

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published July 24, 2014] © 2014 

Okay, it scares even me. Over the years, as new phrases came into the vernacular, my kids would hear them at school, start saying them at home, and pretty soon even Mom was using them. Well, most of them. But now, more and more phrases have come into common use that annoy me beyond reason. I know: it’s the first step toward terminal curmudgeonliness. I fear I’m steps away from morphing from the kid-adoring neighbor lady to the one who rolls out onto her front porch in her walker and hurls epithets at the skate boarders.

Language, of course, is always evolving. More than one high school kid, forced to read Shakespeare’s plays, has whined, “Why couldn’t he just write in English?” My kids might have been among them. It took 500 years for Bill’s work to require so much translation but I’ll bet that it will take less than 50 for Early 21st Century English to sound just as foreign. New words are being introduced at warp speed. A single mention of a catchy new term on a TV sitcom or a celebrity’s tweet and it’s suddenly coming out of the mouths of millions.   

Portmanteaus – the blending of two words to create a new one with a different meaning – are introduced daily, aided and abetted by the Internet. Some portmanteaus have become firmly entrenched in the English language like motel (motor + hotel), televangelist (television evangelist), pleather (plastic leather), blog (web log), brunch (breakfast + lunch) and frenemy (enemy disguised as a friend). New and often hilarious ones appear daily on Urban Dictionary, for example, harassenger: a passenger who is constantly harassing you about your driving skills.

But some words and expressions I hear every day I just can’t get my ahead around. Here’s a few from “Irascible Inga’s Crotchety Guide to Language”:

Pop: Oy. Oy again. When I hear someone say that a particular color of eye shadow makes her eyes pop or a certain piece of furniture makes the room pop, it makes ME pop, but not the same way. Apparently, there is nothing that cannot pop anymore.

Hot mess: What happens when things fail to pop.

Price point: What was wrong with plain old “price”?

He gets me: Could you be more specific? 

The new album dropped last week: From what height?  Is it OK? Wouldn’t Fed Ex Ground have been a more sensible choice? 

Big girl panties:  Definitely a contender for most over-used phrase of the year, as in “She needs to put on her big girl panties and deal with the situation.”  Can we just leave underwear out of it?  The visual is, well, never mind.

When a door closes, a window opens: Only during a tornado.

I have to take this (cell phone call): No, you really don’t!

Grow our company: Is it a plant? 

Opens up about: Apparently the verb “talk” just doesn’t sell magazines anymore. Instead, celebrity interviewees are alleged to “open up” about their lives implying that they’ve chosen this particular interview with US magazine to divulge their previously undisclosed innermost thoughts. Actual celebrity quote: “I guess if I had more time, I’d start a vegetable garden.”  Cover headline: “Jennifer opens up about the secret passion even her friends didn’t know about!!!” 

That’s how I roll:  Please, please stop rolling.

I’m all about...: Evil cousin of “he gets me.”

Wheelhouse: Suddenly everybody has one. Overnight, we’ve become a nation of tugboat operators. 

Everything happens for a reason: Yes, but not the one you’re thinking. Meant to be comforting in situations of minor disappointment (“I didn’t get into Berkley, but everything happens for a reason.”)  Fails miserably when applied to mass casualty tragedies, unless, of course, it refers to people other than you.

Like: Here, at least I know I have, like, lots of company.

You did good: My high school English teacher would be rising  out of her grave at an adjective being used as an adverb but my kids’ teachers in the La Jolla school system all said it. One of my sons sent me an article recently saying ‘you did good’ is in such popular usage that it can be now considered ‘correct.’ The attached note read: “Mom: sorry this had to happen in your life time.”

I suppose if these are my worst complaints about the language, I shouldn’t complain. But I will anyway. And as for your skate boarders, could you keep it down during my nap?


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