WORDKILL: Could somebody please gag the next politician who gives lip service to children's issues by proudly announcing, "It takes a whole village to raise a child"? They stole that nice African proverb, which actually used to mean something, and uttered it so many times it sounds like mere flatulence now.
There are lots of things I hope will disappear come the new year, but I'll stick to words. In my I-don't-want-to-hear-this-next-year file I offer "Whatever." Next to ending every sentence as though it were a question, this word-phrase has overworked its gonads so much it's due at the urologist's office.
But look for new problems with a similar bent to come creeping in, like the improved version of "whatever," which is sure to sound like "ever." You know, the same way "hanging out" slipped to the lesser "hanging." Speaking of "way," please tell that to go away. Or "g'way" which is certain to come roaring at you from one of those user groups onscreen which sign off with that cutesy "g'bye" stuff.
Having recently clicked into one of those chatty lizard lounge groups for the first time, it became apparent to me that the language is headed toward short cuts I never imagined, and the "Net," lesser form of the "Internet," and "mail," soon to replace e-mail, is helping us get there. To "chat"--itself the derivative of "chit-chat"--you have to type as fast as you can read and respond online, and that means we're in for a variety of hypershrinkage which may turn the language rather quickly into something akin to Morse Code. Let's just say "code" to save time. But don't yell it in a hospital.
As you've noticed, "I'm sure" was dashed in favor of the more hip "totally", but frankly those were just way too easy to say and got abused to the point where dinosaurs were saying the words on cereal boxes. So, in street chatter, we busted it.
Speaking of the street, have you noticed the phrase, "Just kicking it," rearing its head out there? "Me and Lucy were just kicking it and enjoying ourselves." Hanging out. You know, hanging. Don't add "dude" to that. "Dude" is as popular as "boobies" with first graders, and that's just a spoonful of Kix away from the cereal box. Cool. Not. Same goes for those two dudes. Words. I meant words.
Look for "cyber" to continue as the prefix of the first part of 1996. Recently I saw the word "cyberjerk" in a column, which may signal the beginning of its cyberslide, but cyberslang will live on. There will be tons of new techie words, and the race is on daily to flatten the highway metaphor. I predict street slang will merge with hackertalk to make a sort of "gangstadweeb chat" that you can bob your head to if you're on the street sucking butts or home hanging with hardware till 'round midnight...
Yahoo to the year ahead, word warriors.
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