herald

Thursday 24 July 2014

In which I get totes busted for buzzwords

My colleague and I held an ad hoc meeting last week to discuss the general production of the magazine we work on.

"Done and dusted," I said, once everything seemed to be under control, "so that's the way these pages will appear, going forward." This was met not by agreement, but by silence. Cold silence.

There was clearly another issue that needed to be discussed, an issue that had very suddenly taken priority.

I cleared my throat. "Did I just say 'going forward?'"

"Yes," my colleague answered at once. Her tone was both accusatory and regretful.

"I'm sor--"

"--it's fine."

We sat in silence again.

"It just slipped out --"

"-- I know," she said, "just... don't say it again."

Easier said than done. How could I promise that I would never again utter a phrase that I had no intention of saying in the first place?

I am fundamentally opposed to the phrase, I explained. If there was a badge for the anti-going forward movement, I would wear it with pride.



tourette's

How did that phrase come tripping off my tongue with an ease that suggested it wasn't the first time I had used it? The only explanation was Corporate Tourette's.

Oh dear God, soon I could be saying "I'll revert -- f**k s**t -- back to you" and "synergistically... s**t.... b*llox".

I hasten to add that this is not the first time I have uttered phrases that should be banned.

I recently said "totes", the frequently referred to phrase of young women who hang around Dundrum Town Centre and seem to have difficulty breathing through their nasal passages.

I tried to disguise it by quickly adding "mah goats". As you can imagine, this was fuel to the fire for my friends who assured me that they would never let me live it down. True to their word, they haven't.

I also haven't heard the end of the moment I described a man I met on a yoga retreat as "groovy". I wasn't in my right mind at the time, but my sister has no mercy and she insists on dragging the vowels of that word into next week when she reminds me of that fateful night. I don't think anyone anywhere -- except of course me -- has ever used the word groovy in earnest. In fact, groovy is distinctly ungroovy. What was I thinking? I wasn't, quite simply.

We adults give ourselves an awful lot of credit. "Children's brains are like sponges," we say. And then we go back to reading a magazine feature on the top 20 A/W trends for 2013.

Speaking of magazines, they have an awful lot to answer for. Women's magazines, in particular. They have dumbed womenkind down with contractions such as 'boyf' and acronyms like 'BFF', perfectly fine if your parents are still buying the magazine for you.

Then there's 'fess up' -- at first sight this looks like a time-saving contraction, only it's not. Like confess, it uses two syllables. This leads me to conclude that the definition of 'fess up' is: "Hands up, I admit it, I'm a w***er."

Women's magazines, being aimed at women and all, should be promoting language that celebrates the hallmarks of womanhood: heightened intellect, intuition, elegance... Saying peeps instead of people and deets instead of details is anything but. I am all for the creation of new words, but the etymology should have a heritage, the very sound of it should tell a tale.

These new buzzwords are just lazy and uninspired, and our instant adoption of them is nothing short of disturbing.

More disturbing is the fact that one can unconsciously adopt these words. We are all parasites feeding off the zeitgeist, even those who think -- hope, pray -- that they are anything but.

Philosophers have debated over the concept of free will for millennia. I can explain in one word why the concept is a fallacy: 'amazeballs'.

We simply cannot have control of our own minds if a word as inane as amazeballs has come to dominate our vocabulary.



sanity

The pervasiveness of amazeballs is an affront to our seeming intellect. It's the literary equivalent of flinging the end of a hamburger into a bacterial incubator just to see what happens.

Essentially, it is no different to saying 'brill-squares' or 'super-triangles'. I could go on but it can only bring us deeper down the existential rabbit hole and, for my own sanity, I refuse to burrow any further.

Could you see those phrases catching on? If you're thinking 'yes, I could, actually', then I suggest you go and ingest the iodine tablets that were sent out by the Department of Health a few years ago. The apocalypse is truly upon us.

If you are a user of amazeballs, you should probably know that the phrase was coined by the Devil's Apprentice, the sub-human that is Perez Hilton. You're using a word that was invented by the school bully.

I'd like to say that I will never, as long as I live, use that word, but to be honest I'm not so sure that I can even make that pledge because I'm totes not even sure who I am anymore. Perhaps the only word I can promise I will never use is never. Or nevs.

Is it out of fear that we reach for this fundamentally juvenile language?

In many ways its the PC culturing of everyday language. The very essence of these phrases is their inoffensiveness and innocuousness.

These phrases are euphemisms. "Going forward" is to "from now on" what "passed away" is to "dead".

People seem to be lacking the self authority to say "I made a mistake" and are instead reaching for the comfort blanket of "my bad", something a three-year-old is taught to say to ask to use the potty at creche.

We used to appreciate language as an art form that conveys and evinces emotion.

Catchphrases were passed down. Those days are over, or as my mother always said, "The world is, like, so random, babes".

Rant over. Thank you for your time. Normal transmission shall resume next week.

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