10 August 2010

Words, Language & Common Usage: Pt 1

Throw-away phrases encroach on our speaking habits. They become insidious, empty fillers, devoid of any real meaning.

Consider OMG and the way many people use ... ahem, the F word. While some of us still think of such usage as [with a tilt of the nose] common, these words account for an enormous percentage of young people's daily use. (I know a number of older people who wouldn't know what OMG was, but they use the F-word like an adjective.)

Is that to say young people are dumb, lazy or crass. They may be any of those things; anyone may be, but that's not necessarily related to word choice.

We speak the language of our society. Sometimes we shape the language of our society, but communication involves using commonly understood words and gestures that convey messages to others. When some words are overused, they may lose meaning, or possibly punch!

Being aware of our audience, choosing appropriately rich words and phrases, and anticipating potential misunderstanding are the keys to reasonably effective communication.

One way of throwing a change-up into a conversation is to go old school. What would happen if the tide turned back to the days of . . .

My giddy aunt!, (Not so old school since I heard it in a shop just yesterday.)
Crumbs!
Jimmy Cricket!
Jumping Jellybeans!
Crikey!
Dadgummit!
___________________ (fill in the blank)
Or you could throw in some Yiddish by saying HOK A CHAINIK!

Creativity in expressing our frustration could be a challenging and communicative exercise. We might get more bang for our buck with the unexpected.

What's your favourite exclamatory phrase?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Jill, your Great Grandfather said that people who used "filler words" [his term] were talking faster than they were thinking. His admonition: Don't, or people might think you couldn't think as fast as you talked....might even think you weren't very smart. It worked for me.