Ben Bull hates many, many things. Here are another six of those things.
By Ben Bull
Published October 01, 2010
Before I start this latest diatribe, let me first make a confession: I complain too much.
When I'm basking in the summer sun, swinging in the cottage hammock with my super-hot, negligee-clad wife, I trace the streams of light across her shimmering silk folds and remark: "How much did this cost again?"
When one of my kiddies rushes all the way from school, bounds up the front steps of the house and thrusts their latest Spanish test into my palm, I look at the score and snap: "El ochenta y siete por ciento? Qué sucedió al otro trece por ciento?"
Well, OK - I'm not bad. But I am a whiner. I'm British! It's in the genes. It's the northern upbringing for sure. The working class parentage - that's a part of it too.
If it's not that, then that oppressive Catholic school system must factor in somehow. All those busty, buttoned-down nuns with their large bendy canes... Eh, what? Oh, sorry - where was I?
Whatever my excuse - it doesn't matter. This is who I am and it's not going to change. So let's just get on with it shall we? OK great, so here we go - Another Accidental Activist grumblefest: six more words I hate!
I wrote, a couple of years ago, about ten words I hate, but well - that was sooo 2006. It's high time I brought the topic up to date. So, for no other reason than to get this off my chest so I can move on to the next moan and groan, allow me to relate - Another Six Words I Hate!
According to dictionary.com, or Webster's, or some such source way more intelligent than myself, Zeitgeist means: "The spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period."
How nice. Not for me. I have two big problems with this word: Firstly, it's German. Now I'm not German, I don't speak German and I don't live in Germany. So why would I start randomly spouting German words over here? Exactly - I wouldn't! This would be like me saying to my mate Dave during our Tim Horton's coffee break:
"Hey Dave, how was your weekend?"
"Passten Sie das Manchester United-Spiel auf Fernsehen auf?"
"What? Sind Sie wütend?"
My second problem with this word is that it's used way too often by noobs like Jian Ghomeshi. Jian Ghomeshi is a CBC presenter and zeitgeist is very definitely a 'CBC word'. Now, don't get me wrong, I like the CBC. I'm a big supporter of local radio and high-brow entertainment in general, but come on - why do so many of their presenters have to be so...inarticulately intelligent?
I read books as a kid. I went to school. I worked my way through college. But I never came across a word like zeitgeist! And then oity-toity-OMG-worst-band-in-the-world-Moxy Fruvous-alumni Jian Ghomeshi comes along, starts winding up some movie-star-wanna-be-pop-star and just, you know - slips it in there:
"Hi movie star who's films I'm not supposed to mention, what were your musical inspirations growing up (because I don't know what else to ask), blah, blah, blah, zeitgeist?"
"Holy crap! What does that mean?"
It doesn't matter. It's German. And we're not German!
Just a thought, Jian Ghomeshi: the Germans never gave us permission to use their words. And there are plenty of other pretentious words in the CBC English language you can use. So why don't we keep with the spirit of the times and stick to our mother tongue? Great! Thanks.
Normalcy is another word that seems to have crept up on us, well - me at least. Where did it come from? I don't recall hearing it for the previous 40 years of my life, and yet, here it is - all the time!
"The family is slowly healing at this difficult period and they want to get back to normalcy," the newspaper will say.
Normalcy? What the hell is that? Why can't they just get back to 'normal' like everyone else? And how does the added 'cy' help them? When did that suddenly get tacked on? It's not cool to go randomly adding letters to the end of perfectly adequate words and then start using them like they were always there.
"I thought your RTH article was abominalinal young Ben, well done."
Enough is enough. I demand that we put an end this abnormalcy immediately!
In one of her recent columns, the Star's Rosie DiManno used the following words: effluvium, bilious, palaver, snitcom (not even a word), erudite, repartee, obfuscation, polemical, snark, acrimonious, blather, oratorical, blogosphere, ninjas, badinage, discursive, lippy, and flayed.
Now why did she use all these words, you may ask? Because she felt like it? Maybe Rosie has shares in a dictionary company. Maybe she just wants to piss everybody off. Who knows?
What I do know is that Rosie's pseudo-eloquence does not add anything to her pitch. If anything, it dilutes the effectiveness of her message. I don't know about you but I'll be damned if I'm going to set aside my morning newspaper, flip open my Webster's and leaf through the flaps to look up 'effluvium' while my cornflakes go soggy.
I have a couple of words for Rosie:
The dictionary is not there to be pilfered and abused. Words should not be cast like arrows, to pierce our ignorant minds with their wordiness! Here's a single word you might want to keep in mind Rosie, next time you patronize us with your 'art': Pretentious.
Now stop being so brazen and bombastic and keep it simple already!
Apparently doppelganger means: "ghostly double or counterpart of a living person". It's a German word. Again. And it's annoying. Again. And it's being overused. Again!
What is going on here, I wonder. Are we being invaded? By German...words? Doppelganger is a word used by people like Rosie DiManno and Jian Ghomeshi because they are tired of using ordinary people words like 'double' and 'counterpart' and want to sound more intelligent.
I hate 'doppelganger'. Why?
'Double' and 'counterpart' are perfectly good words. So why don't we use them?!
Please Jian, Rosie and anyone else who might be their ghostly double, "STOPPEN SIE, DIESES WORT SOFORT ZU VERWENDEN!"
All of a sudden the adjective was everywhere, gushing forth from every newspaper, website and radio station newscast: "Jacobs, whose seminal 1961 work The Death and Life of Great American Cities is only now sinking in with city planning departments, was always several decades ahead of her time." -- Ryan McGreal, RTH.
"She (Jacobs) was selected to be an officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 for her seminal writings." -- Everyone else.
'Seminal writings'... It just doesn't sound right. It's as if the word seminal has the opposite problem as Doppelganger, i.e. - there are no other words. But there are some other meanings of course...and they've got nothing to do with monumental literature.
Call me juvenile but come on, do we have to use sexual / bodily function type words when describing something completely unrelated? I wouldn't use 'shaft' when asking for directions to the elevator. I'm not 'erect' when standing for the national anthem (although I do sometimes get excited). Hell, I wouldn't even be so much as 'testy' when getting unzipped about words like 'seminal'.
I suggest we leave the icky medical words to the medical professionals and come up with some original words of our own.
OK, now where is Jian...? "Thanks for this!" Ah, there he is. Every now and again someone comes along whose every look, utterance and sneer screams 'Phony!'Jian Gomeshi is that man. He makes me feel like Holden Caulfield skulking through the halls of his asylum.
One of Jian's interview traits is to pause at the end of the discussion - for effect I'm assuming - and then gush, ever-so-(in)sincerely: "Thanks for this!"
There then follows an awkward silence, during which I can only assume the interviewee is feeling the same way as me - i.e. nauseated - and then a hasty recovery: "Oh, er, you're welcome...hurr, hurr, puke."
The statement: "Thanks for this", the delivery, the mock sincerity of it all - it all makes me recoil. I'm forced to replay the previous ten minutes or so of pseudo-philosophical questions and resist the urge to vomit. The comment makes me feel unclean. It's as if the whole conversation has been smothered in treacle.
In an effort to reproduce a fuller transcript, the delivery usually goes something like this:
Interviewee: "So, yeah Jian, John whatever your name is, I don't want to talk about my movies. That's a really intelligent question, probably, but I don't speak German and I don't know what you're talking about."
Interviewee: "Yeah, whatever. Canadians are like mashed potatoes without gravy, goodbye."
Ghomeshi: Silence-pause - smirk. More silence-another pause, and then: "Thanks for this!"
Schlop... Hurr.. Aargh! Pour on the treacle.
OK, that's all the words I hate (for now) so - pause-smirk-pause - Thanks for this! I'll see you back here again in another couple of years for more angst ridden wordy-nonsense. Until then, RTH readers: Auf Wiedersehen!
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