In these very busy times leading into the holiday season, one has many opportunities to see and hear examples of language which tend to irritate, much as a popcorn kernel wedged between a couple of teeth does. And because misery loves company, I will share a few of them herewith.
I’m not sure if anyone else is as annoyed as I am with the word so, used to begin something, but it seems to be more and more in vogue—in both writing and speaking. (Example: “So my family and I are all packed and ready to go on vacation when the phone rings.”)
Like nails on a chalkboard, this prevents me from really enjoying what might be some pretty decent content of whatever it is the writer/speaker has to offer. I really can’t pinpoint exactly why this is so irritating, but perhaps it’s because the wording sounds like an anecdote or joke. I love a good anecdote and joke as much as the next person, but I don’t find beginning a piece of serious writing with so very enjoyable. And I’m hearing this, more and more, from professionals who should know better!
When so begins something, doesn’t it imply that there should be something known previous to it? Or, perhaps, this is another one of those examples of how our language gets shaped and used (often misused) for one’s own whims.
Right along with this use of so is the use of I mean… to start a sentence. For whatever reason, this seems to be a standard “reply starter” offered up by athletes who have been asked some hard-hitting, crucial question, as in the following example: (Interviewer)-“How did it feel to score the winning touchdown as time ran off the clock?” (Sports star)-“I mean, it was cool and surreal!” Does anyone else find this weird, or is it only I that does?
While one ponders an answer to that, another irritating term is surreal (see above example). Yep, it’s a perfectly wonderful word, but it’s overused and appears in so many places where another word might be better. Could it be that many folks use the term in order to sound smart and literary? Whatever the case, it needs a rest, as do gin up, teachable moment, throw someone under the bus, just sayin’, my bad, to die for, it’s all good, and it is what it is. Nary a day passes, it seems, when I don’t hear at least one of these gems thrown out there in one form of media or another. Be they “hip” or “cool,” they’re still annoying!
Perhaps with the arrival of a new year in just a few weeks, all of these terms can take a much needed hiatus and cease their annoyance factors. Of course, it will be short-lived as there’s sure to be more to be ushered in right behind them and shoved down our throats by the “hip” and “cool” media and the “hip” and “cool” folks who pick up on it. Oh, well, resigned to that fate, the beat goes on…