Words, language and change.
In George Orwell’s 1984 he took a lot of care explaining how newspeak, a state controlled way of using language, could be used to control the minds of the populace, but even so, I feel that the populace is not always best placed to make their own language changes. Lately I’ve found myself asking “Can I get a cup of…” when I should blatantly be saying “May I have a cup of …” and even the awful extra use of the word ‘get’ to mean ‘understand’ as in “I don’t get what you are saying”.
And here I will point out you do indeed ‘get’ what I’m saying, because unless you are deaf the sound waves of my speech have reached your ears, it’s translating those sounds into meaning that you are struggling with.
The silly thing is that some words seem to move happily onto a new meaning without rousing my ire. I’m cool with wicked meaning good (and with cool meaning ….well, cool) I don’t mind brilliant no longer referring to light, or that fantastic no longer refers to fantasy. Even celebrity slips by, though I have never celebrated any of them.
But some things make me silently cry inside. I cannot stand silently by and listen to the use of ‘literally’ used to just add emphasis, where people are speaking metaphorically. As in “I literally died!” “I literally peed myself”
I don’t like the new trend of using perfectly fine nouns as verbs. When did athletes stop winning medals and begin ‘medalling’. This morning on Radio 4 a man referred to someone (presumably having been killed by an armed drone) as having been “droned by the Americans”. Did this all start with Google and Instagram and Facebook? Is the internet to blame (do ‘inbox me’ to let me know).
Top of my current loathe list, however, are the phrases “me time” which in reality means, some time to do what I want to do, and sounds both pretentious and selfish simultaneously in my opinion. And the frankly horrendous “hack” specifically (but not restricted to) “Life Hack”. Hack, even in computer speak means to break something, to chop and damage. What on earth is a Life Hack anyway? Usually the word hack is replacing the perfectly serviceable word “idea”. So here’s a hack for you. Speak English, and people that also speak English will then be able to understand you without resorting to looking up your words and phrases on an online urban dictionary.
PS do add any of your own pet hates in the comments below.