The Hall of Shame for words

Rose Law Group Reporter Gripe of the Week

When your editor was a frat rat, we coined the phrase “That’s close,” which really meant far, far off-base. Example: Someone predicts “Nixon will swamp Kennedy.” Response: “That’s close.”

Slang has permeated the Mother Tongue, aided and abetted by dictionary publishers.

English has few remaining filters. Shakespeare and William F. Buckley are rolling over in their graves.

Nouns have become verbs, and commercial products have become generic, such as kleenex.

Advent of the computer and one of its offspring — social media — have expanded the language, all the way from “input” to “tweet,” the latter having made it only last week into the Words Hall of Shame — today’s dictionary.

The rule used to be “If it isn’t (or ain’t) in the dictionary, don’t use it. Now, if you use it, it should be in the dictionary.

The English language is on steroids.

For this column, your Griper turned to his journalism mentor, Bob Rogers, who is a retired head of the Texas A&M journalism department.

“I think putting every fad word that comes along in the dictionary gives credence and status to speech that writers and speakers of clear and purposeful language should avoid, except in novels, reporting and other pieces where they convey the reality of people speaking such things,” Rogers said.

“I had much rather see dictionaries publish separate sections on colloquial language, slang, fads and so on. At least that would remind us that sub-standard speech exists and has a place in society, but that it is only what it is.”

Thanks, coach

The purpose of this writing is to protest even more the bastardization of language — the misuse of words, be they in the dictionary or not.

It’s called grammar.

And when the media doesn’t don’t adhere to grammatical rules, all is lost because the day will come when dictionaries will surrender to trends, will list media as a singular noun, and f**bomb will be spelled out.

Or we will clean up the mess we’ve made of the tools we use to communicate.

Ah, that’s close.



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August 2012