I was going to behave, really.
I was going to behave, really.
Maybe “behave” isn’t the right word. I always behave. It’s why I’m boring and old. Ask my teenage son.
I guess the word I’m looking for is “forbearance.” Bite the tongue once in a while. Pick your battles. Just let it go, man. Yes, forbearance is the word.
So I was OK when the e-mail from World Word Nerd Net arrived.
“We regret to inform you that we are dropping your membership. All language freaks are entitled to rant against abuses on the ear and on good sense – and we consider WWNN to be a ‘safe place’ for that sort of thing – but your constant griping is too much for us. We have no need of extremists. And just for the record: ‘Text’ is a perfectly good verb these days. Got a cell phone? Ever send a text message? There you go. You texted, so you’re just as guilty. Kindly get over it.”
I was a rock of calm. Who has need of such appeasers and infidels? Why call them out for an insincere euphemism such as “we regret to inform you?” I will go on my serene way, letting these trifling matters just slide.
Then I flipped on the TV.
I tend to watch the business channel, which is full of brash young people who are full of themselves and full of jargon they use to bludgeon the interviewer and remind us how cutting edge they are and how dim we peons are.
“This,” one of them said, “is in the sweet spot and has the wind at its tail.”
Why it takes two cliched metaphors instead of one to say “these guys are making a lot of money” is beyond me. It might have something to do with a rule of modern media: Silence might be golden, but it makes for uncomfortable TV, and we can’t have that, so try to speak coherently but at least babble.
What the heck, I thought. Just let that go.
I should have changed the channel. If I had, I wouldn’t have heard the next smart guy, who used the word – and I’m not kidding – “optionality.”
Let me rephrase that. No way is that a word. Not even close. We are left to assume it was concocted in the same workshop that gave us “functionality,” which is how computer people say “it works.” Similarly, “optionality” would mean “it’s flexible” or “we have alternatives,” and who would prefer a straightforward, declarative sentence when something fuzzier is available?
This time I did switch the channel. I was looking for something soothing – maybe a nice soap opera instead of the gyrations of the markets – when I stumbled across an ad.
A rather loud voice was implying that my home’s insulation wasn’t quite good enough – how would he know? – and he said that means “money literally flying out the door.”
To heck with forbearance. I couldn’t take it any more.
“Money literally cannot fly. Birds, bugs and bats fly, but not much else. Airplanes fly (or are flown, depending on how you want to look at it). Money ‘flying out the door’ is an easily understood figure of speech. Hence, figurative, not literal. Huge difference. Please stop.”
I cc’d to World Word Nerd Net and begged for reinstatement.
“Did you just use ‘cc’ as a verb? Really? You’re still out. Go bug someone else.”