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Try to make it real, compared to what

by anna at 05:59 PM on October 15, 2003

I'm so fed up with modern lingo. Here are some examples of what irks me to no end.

Undocumented workers: People who've flagrantly flaunted immigration laws i.e. illegal aliens. The current euphemism implies that someday proper documents will be produced, which will never happen.

Significant Others: Oh give it to me, my significant other. Your penis is so...sizable.

Takes Pole: You often see this in sports page headlines, as in "Jeff Gordon takes pole." It sounds awfully...peculiar.

Pre-owned: Used car dealers have taken to slipping this into ads, as though it's a good idea to have someone else break in your car.

Native Americans: I know an Indian activist who claims the government foisted this label upon them. His tribe came from someplace else too, namely the steppes of central Asia. Hence no one is a native American, he explains. What would they prefer to be called? Americans, that's what. Works for me.

Higher Powers: This is needlessly vague and dilutes the grandeur of God or Allah or The Donald or whoever you choose to worship. "Praise be to Higher Power" simply doesn't cut it.

Life affirming: Yet another nebulous term we don't need. Life its ownself is plenty real and requires no further affirmation.

Syndromes: Real diseases like malaria or chicken pox have distinct symptoms, progressions and causes. Such so-called syndromes as chronic fatigue, sick building and chronic pain do not. Thus they don't rise to the level of a full-fledged disease. That is needlessly confusing.

Special Needs: Special used to mean something good, as in "special talent." But when combined with needs it means something bad like retardation, behavioral problems or disability. Needless to say it isn't good to have special needs.

Needless to say: Then why say it?

Right-thinking people: This is heard from both sides of the ideological fence and means, "those whose views happen to coincide with mine."

Angst: I'm not altogether clear on what this is. I just know it's ponderous and I'm sick of hearing about it. Corporate angst, investor angst, anti-globalization angst and angst among Gen-X members. And it's got too many consonants like a Polish name.

Metrosexual: I just don't like the way this sounds---like a homeless dude who offers to give you a hand-job on the subway.

All hip-hop vernacular: By the time it wends its way into the suburban lexicon it's hopelessly trite. See: Peace out.

Whatever it is that Ozzie is still muttering about: This guy and his family are so five minutes ago.

Freedom fighters: Oh, please. If it's a terrorist, call it a terrorist and then kill it.

comments (12)

Some others that bug me:

Is “whatnot” even a word? Does it actually have a meaning besides “I’m too lazy to think of a list so I’m going to use this stupid word”?

And what about “where do you get off”? Get off what? What does that mean? Sounds personal.

“How ironic.” OK, dumbass. Did you learn the definition to “ironic” from Alanis Morissette? Get a dictionary.

by MrBlank at October 15, 2003 11:59 PM

I hate "I could care less", the bastardization of "I couldn't care less". For a while that was incredibly rampant, and every time I heard it, I wanted to say, "Oh, you could, could you? You must not feel too strongly about it then." Then I'd imagine affecting an arch expression.

Anna, I'm not too sure about this "special needs" idea you mention. You could say that it's bad to have special needs, but how does that help the situation? It doesn't help anybody to walk up to an autistic kid, a clinically depressed kid, or a deaf/blind/paralyzed person and tell them that their challenges are bad. And it doesn't help if people don't actually say it out loud, but just think it in their minds, either. You'll be able to see the judgement written all over their face anyway. This expression is easy to see in ordinary life, especially in L.A. A couple of good L.A. party bombshells are, for example, "I've gained a lot of weight recently", "I drive an economy car", "I was laid off and unemployed for eight months", and "I work part-time. No, I do not go to school." Let one of these rip and any a-hole invitees present will get this look in their eyes reflective of their panicked desire to run away from such a horrible and disgusting loser.

Perversely, one of my funniest recent moments came when a Westside denizen who'd written me off as a rube because I currently live in the suburbs visibly flinched and wilted when I casually mentioned that I was going to stop by my friend's place in Brentwood ("No, not north of Montana, it's in the canyons.") to pick up some Academy screeners.

by jean at October 16, 2003 4:54 AM

I cringe at "I could care less" too. Jean, I certainly can relate when it comes to disability i.e. special needs. My son has this borderline "disorder" (there's another one!) but because it is borderline and he is functional in school and socially, the school refuses to accommodate him. I think I may have mentioned before that this is like an all-consuming obsession 'round here. Ironic? No, but it's damn frustrating.

by anna at October 16, 2003 6:48 AM

"mature" with a hard "t"
"Later taters"
"particular"... people with limited vocabulary seem to abuse this word with no shame, as though this word lifts them into the next bracket of intelligence.

by Linz at October 16, 2003 9:58 AM

My cousin used to annoy me with a little reasoning of his. He would mix his corn and mashed potatoes together to eat them. When I would ask him why he did that he wouldn't reply with "it's more efficient" or "it tastes better to me that way", no. He would look at me and say "Well, it's all going to end up in the same place." Oh yea? Well why then don't you also mix in the peach cobbler, macaroni and cheese and pour some juice over it all then take a bite? It's all going to the same place right? "You're gross" he'd answer.

by Ezy at October 16, 2003 10:23 AM

I would like to testify that I made mashed potatoes earlier in the week & put corn in them too, then covered it all in salt, butter & gravy. Why? Because it tastes really fucking good. You should tell him about the Bass-o-matic...

by Linz at October 16, 2003 12:23 PM

Yea. The trusty bass-o-matic. That'll learn him.

I must say that I also mix my food now. As a child I had to have strict divisions between foods and none could touch. I think it's because I just don't give a shit anymore. I ate things in the Army that would make a goat vomit so mixing a little corn and mashed potatoes doesn't vex me anymore. Mashed potatoes, corn, salt, butter, and gravy? What, are you turning into a health nut on me Linz?

by Ezy at October 16, 2003 1:10 PM

my old roomate was one of those "food separators".

i'd bump his plate every now and again just to bring him back down to earth. he also waited until after he ate all his food to take his first sip of drink. then he would just slug it down. one glass...all gulps, no breaks. breathe while pouring another. second glass...all gulps, no breaks. fascinating to watch.

as for corn and mashed potatoes...that was an old college standby. i liked how the salty tots and the sweet corn complimented each other. but then again, my po' ass would go get a huge bag of discarded bread ends from the local sandwich shop for 50 cents, so i could survive many hours without breaking down to go eat a real meal. don't take my word on food habit. surviving college without getting scurvy or looking all fucked up is like winning a bet against god.

by lajoie at October 16, 2003 2:59 PM

mixing foods is a must...you get better flavor and texture that way. you should try mixing peanutbutter w/ tuna instead of mayo. it's quite tasty. as for eating habits in college...i used to go through five dozen eggs in a little over a week. hooray for costco!

by JC at October 16, 2003 3:51 PM

Ezy I'd pay for your cousin to join us at a fine French bistro. I want him to tell the chef he wants all six courses and all those delicate sauces they've slaved over thrown together on one platter.

Whatnot and particular are unnecessary words. If you delete them, the meaning remains the same.

I can't believe I forgot "We appreciate your patience." They were training a new staff in my bank today. It took half my lunch hour to cash a check. They were appreciating something that didn't exist, trust me. Appreciate THIS!

by anna at October 16, 2003 5:30 PM

how about "this call may be recorded to assure quality service"? i'm definitely sick of that one. how about we just assume any call we make to those places is being recorded and skip the half-assed warning?

by JC at October 16, 2003 6:23 PM

Anna, that sounds frustrating indeed. I wonder if I might be able to help you make an end-run around the system and get some help somehow. I've just started a position at a social services agency; maybe I'll learn something that could be applied in your state, for your son. I'll keep an eye out for you, and if you'd like, you can e-mail me and let me know a little more about what your son's needs are (whatever you feel like disclosing). I think I worked the name link for this comment to show my e-mail address.

by jean at October 17, 2003 3:45 AM

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