Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she shares a few of the words she hates.
I understand that language evolves; it adapts to the temperature of the culture and times, and it's a constantly changing entity. But below are six terms that have entered our spoken word like a chigger under the skin of society that refuses to budge.
Now I know if I am patient and wait, they will eventually lose their shine and fade back into obscurity like "gnarly," "rad," and "grody," but what if they don't? What if they are granted permanent residence as in "I was like, ..." or "totally"? See this as a warning call that if we don't do something about these phrases now, they may never leave, like genital herpes and Ryan Seacrest. That's how serious this is!!!
6. Meme: What is this? What does it mean? I dare anyone to explain it to me in a sentence. You can't. You know why? It's a stupid word, and stupid is too complicated to explain in one line. Right now I am very hungry so I may not be making a lot of sense, but this word makes me irate. IRATE.
My boiling point was reached while watching PBS coverage of the election night, and whole segment was devoted to what people who were tweeting and not watching the returns were tweeting about the returns. I watched the returns. Why would I want to know what people who weren't were saying and what their memes were? And why did it need a whole segment to tell me what memes were "trending" by people who weren't paying full attention because they were meming? Why would the rest of us, who were paying attention, care? I WAS PAYING FULL ATTENTION. Ask me what happened, PBS!! ASK ME!! I wasn't even that drunk! And what the hell does "haz" mean?
Words to use instead: Bullshit; Generational nonsense typed by someone on Adderall; Just another kitten picture that isn't funny of a kitten that was probably dropped off at the Humane Society years ago.
5. Bump: I know this is supposed to be a cutesy pie reference to a recently noticeable pregnancy, and I did my best to ignore it, but after I saw that it was the name of a maternity store, I flipped out.
It's not cute, it's over used and worn out and repeated far too often by young Republican girls working retail while shopping for a husband at their local ward and by women who have a subscription to Us Weekly. Not really the sort of think tank that should be determining our vocabulary.
And another thing, most of the bumps out there aren't the cute kind, either. Bumps are mostly inflamed tissue, fat deposits, warts, moles and tumors. And all of that stuff should be cut off and certainly not celebrated. And here's yet another thing: on behalf of all the girls out there who have been asked "When are you due?" when the only thing due was a punch in the face to the inquisitor, ease up on the bump culture, OK? Just because there's a protrusion in the abdominal area doesn't mean you need to call extra attention to it or ask what you're naming it. If you must know, it's called "All of the Carbs I ate in 2007 Past Eight O'Clock at Night." OK?
Words to use instead: Engorged uterus; Circumference; Lair of the fetus.
4. Over the moon: Again, cute the first 400 times a celebrity said it to describe how joyful having a spawn was, but by the time it got to Drew Barrymore and Adele, the phrase was nothing short of an eye roll, limping along, barely breathing and threadbare because the Kardashians, Jennifer Garner, and Ben Affleck have beaten the hell out of it. Leave it alone, folks. Let it die a kind death.
Words to use instead: Make up another nonsensical comparison to space objects if you must: we're as "Delighted as a satellite who is tracking your every move to sell to corporations later!", "Fiery as a comet hoping to destroy life on Earth because of reckless phrases like this," or "As excited as men in orbit who have to recycle their own pee and possibly cook with it."
3. Sumpin' sumpin': Oprah needs to be fined one third of her overall fortune and do some serious community service for injecting this annoyance into the vernacular -- like collecting used needles from underneath park benches or washing the hair of homeless women. To express how detrimental this word is to our environment, I am sad to inform you that you don't even need a tongue to say it. Try it. I'm not lying. That is a dangerous word. That is the definition of a dangerous word.
How many times would a parrot have to say it before you took measures into your own hands? Be honest: you'd kill it before one episode of Judge Judy was over. And no one would blame you. This is the most annoying thing Oprah has said since "baked French fries" and (shiver) "A ha moment."
Words to use instead: Use any word in the dictionary. Any word that is legitimate and has a root. Any word that requires pronunciation.
2. No words: This is the lazy man's condolence card and I am sick of it. Because, you see, there ARE WORDS, you just have to make the effort to locate them. I know, I know, it's hard in the face of another's tragedy to actually have to type in www.thesaurus.com and input the word "sucky," but it can be done. I swear.
Here, I've done it for you. It took six seconds. Print out this page and carry it with you so that the next time someone gets beheaded by accident, a house burns down or someone pays full price for something, you can whip out and say the words "appalling," "harrowing," "unfortunate," and "heavy," and not look so much like the asshole who doesn't know those no words.
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1. Cray cray: Shut up with the Nell talk. God, I beg you, enough! I know I was the only person stupid enough to pay for a ticket to Cloud Atlas, but in case you unfortunately snuck in, do you remember when Tom Hanks and Halle Berry start talking in caveman/baby speak and you walked right back out again? If you're killing your dinner with a rock, sure, say "cray cray." Otherwise, I think it's only fair that we get to stone you. No one likes a baby talker. Nobody.
Words to use instead: Batshit; Off her meds; 5150.
Stay tuned for new adventures with Laurie Notaro, and catch up on a few classics in any of her books including The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life,It Looked Different on the Model, I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies), There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and An Idiot Girl's Christmas at Changing Hands, on Amazon, or through her website.