Posted by languageandgrammar on June 27, 2011
By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
I was a recent Web conference associated with my day job, and I was extremely fortunate to attend during a year when there were so many thought leaders floating around, including one of the keynote speakers. I was merely one of the much less important thought followers.
Leaders, innovators, experts, and book authors are nothing new, but the concept of a thought leader is. It’s a re-hash of the old terminology, but I find it to be condescending. I might not have the expertise of one of the so-called thought leaders, but my thoughts are as valuable as his or hers.
I know. That’s not how the term is intended, and it’s just the people in a new generation defining themselves in their own way. But I’m telling you this: I have my own thoughts, and I’m not going to follow anyone else’s!
Speaking of thoughts, mine often wandered to the attendees who paid a couple of hundred bucks each for the right to not pay attention to the presenters. How could they–with tweets to send and follow, Facebook pages to update, e-mail to send, and Web sites to visit?
Seriously, have you noticed how little attention people now pay to other people, including those who they adorn with such titles as “thought leaders?” It’s getting progressively more difficult to get work done with so few people paying attention.
Posted in language, writing | Tagged: condescending terms, language, terminology, thought leader, trendy words | Leave a Comment »
Posted by languageandgrammar on May 20, 2009
The good news is that I might have been too harsh on one of the terms that I’ve made reference to in the past–man cave. Sure, it’s annoying, trendy, and sexist with a seventh-grade maturity level, but at least it’s made of two words that are otherwise useful.
The bad news is that there is a new term with all of the same charming characteristics of man cave, and it’s one of those special hybrid words–you know, like the wildly popular ginormous.
Move over man cave; mantuary is now on the map, as was indicated in a recent AOL headline: One Guy’s Mantuary Has Bar, Games, and Biggest TV We’ve Ever Seen.
I wonder why men ever get married–if we’re to believe that they’re only ever happy in caves where beer flows continuously, sports rolls on bigger-than-life televisions, and a sign on the door says “no women allowed.” In other words, a man is only happy when he’s in his sanctuary, a mantuary.
Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: grammar, language, mantuary, sexism, trendy words | Comments Off on Mantuary
Posted by languageandgrammar on May 17, 2009
When I was doing a recent google search for trendy language (is that really that much more difficult than saying when I recently googled trendy language?), I came across some Larry King commentary on the topic. His comments, found at Larry King about trendy language, mirror many of the thoughts we have.
King touches on the effectiveness of simplicity in language, turning nouns into verbs, instant cliches, and inflated language. The post says that the article was found in the Bangkok Post in 1996, but it’s still valid today–if not moreso.
Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: grammar, language, larry king, trendy language, trendy words, writing | Comments Off on Larry King on Language
Posted by languageandgrammar on April 13, 2009
I recently heard the word pre-prepared, and not being a word historian, I don’t know whether this is an old word that’s being used again or a new word needed to meet the demands of our fast-paced society. (Please note the sarcasm.)
I’m guessing that it’s the latter–that somehow someone has decided that since some things, such as food, have two levels of preparation, we can call the first layer pre-preparing, as in How to Pre-Prepare Foods for Weight Loss. (By the way, the headline makes it seem as if it’s the food, not the person, who’s is being prepared, I mean pre-prepared, for weight loss–I guess when the food is eaten, it will weigh less.)
Prepare means to get something ready in advance, so pre-prepare must mean to get something ready before you get it ready in advance.
I’m not ready to be that prepared.
Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: grammar, language, pre-prepare, trendy words, writing | 1 Comment »
Posted by languageandgrammar on February 23, 2009
One of the terms that I wrote about in Literally, the Best Language Book Ever was our use of -friendly. We use the same construction, pairing a word with -friendly, in ways that are inconsistent, which leads to understandable confusion. For example, user-friendly means that something is easy to use, child-friendly means that it’s safe for the child to be around, and carb-friendly means that a food is conducive to a low-carbohydrate diet. Since trendiness encourages us to slap a -friendly on any word we’d like, it might be nice if it always meant the same thing.
We do the same thing with -free. Typically, when we use this construction, which isn’t terribly articulate to begin with, it is done with -free meaning that we’re free of whatever it is we’re referring to. For instance, a germ-free environment is one without germs, and a carb-free food is one loaded with fat, I mean without (free of) carbs. A child-free zone is one where children are not permitted. Well, you get the idea.
That brings me to the oft-used (and oft-annoying) term hands-free, such as a hands-free phone. Logically, it would mean a phone without (free of) hands, which isn’t all that revolutionary. I’ve seen plenty of phones in my 40+ years, and other than the odd Mickey Mouse phone, I can’t recall any with hands.
What hands-free seems to mean in trendy 21st century America is a phone that you don’t need your hands for in order to operate. That’s a completely different meaning than all of the other -free words, which makes me wonder if I should go back in time and go to my mom and say Look mom, hands free when riding my bike down the street.
Posted in grammar, language, writing | Tagged: grammar, hands free, hands free phone, language, trendy language, trendy words, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted by languageandgrammar on May 21, 2008
An MSNBC political pundit must have heard about my unadvertised use one amorphous cliche from my book, get the second free special since he gave this insightful analysis of the extended Democratic nomination process last night using two entries from the book: At the end of the day, the delegate map is what it is.
Believe me, especially since I’ve been doing an extensive amount of radio promotion for Literally, the Best Language Book Ever, I understand that live broadcasts do not always result in the most crsip, articulate discussions (I plan to write an off-topic post this weekend about doing the radio interviews); however, there was nothing in that phrase that added anything to the discussion. At the end of the day is a trendy, non-descript expression, and it’s unclear under these circumstances if he meant literally at the end of that day (Monday), or if he meant at the end of the following day (Tuesday) since there would be additional primaries, or if he meant at the end of the entire primary season.
That part of the phrase–at the end of the day–was great American novel material compared to the whopping conclusion, it is what it is. That, or any slight variation of it, says absolutely nothing. Of course, it is what it is! What else could it be–what it isn’t?
Ok, let’s make a couple of logical assumptions and replacements to see if we can determine what was meant by the statement. Let’s assume that he was referring to the end of the primary season when he said at the end of the day since that’s the most important of the three possible time frames being discussed, and let’s replace the it in it is what it is with delegate map since that was the reference.
The new, more specific statement is then at the end of the primary season, the delegate map is what the delegate map is. I don’t know about you, but that didn’t help me. I wish he would have just said what he meant in his own words; I might have learned something.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
Sherry’s Grammar List
Posted in language, politics | Tagged: at the end of the day, grammar, it is what it is, language, politics, trendy words, writing | Comments Off on Insightful Political Analysis