The Language Police Are Watching

There are worse things than abusing the English language (institutionalized bigotry, for instance), but lately some stuff has gotten under my skin (or continued to get under my skin), and I feel the need to exorcise it (or at least slap it around a bit). So here are some junk-cars-on-the-front-lawn of writing and speaking that I’d like to see removed, and quickly:

“It is what it is.” What the hell does that mean? You’re helpless to do anything about it, whatever “it” is? You’re tired of the conversation, and this is a convenient way to end it? You’re losing the argument, and you don’t have a white flag handy? You like using grating cliches so much that you’ll throw anything out there, inane and ambiguous and meaningless or who knows?

“Irregardless.” This is a nonsense non-word. If you hear it, you should display your best cringing expression and immediately use “regardless” in a sentence in hopes that the offender will catch on. If “regardless” means “in spite of,” what the HELL does “irregardless” mean?

“That being said…” An overused cousin of “The bottom line is…” Both of these dull, dreary, and lazy party-crashers deserve to be met at the door by the bouncer, grabbed by the scruff of their skinny grimy necks, and hurled back into the street, where their junk car awaits, spewing smelly exhaust. How about the nice little conjunction “but”?

“I could care less.” You could? Then what’s your point? If your point is that you have absolutely no concern over whatever it is you’re talking about, you’ve misled the person you’re speaking with (or writing to). If you COULD care less, you’re saying you DO care, at least somewhat. So next time, it’s “I COULDN’T care less,” which of course conveys the correct intent: I care not at all.

“Like,” as in “I was gonna like sit at the table but then she like took my chair?” I thought this junior high extra-baggage hell-word was due to go away a long time ago, but it’s held on and moved up the age ladder. I heard a couple of thirty-something moms throwing it back and forth at the Y a few days ago and broke into a sweat (and this was AFTER my shower). Maybe it would be more palatable in the form of a haiku: “I was gonna like/sit at the table but then/she like took my chair.”

“I’m not a…” Which is usually followed by “scientist,” which is usually followed by, “so I don’t know what all that smelly exhaust is doing to the earth’s oceans and atmosphere.” Well, I’m not a doctor, but when my doctor tells me I need to take thyroid medication because my thyroid is low, I’m gonna believe him. I’m also not a lawyer, but when I go to my lawyer and he draws up a will, I’m gonna believe that it was done correctly. I’m also not a teacher, but when my teacher tells me that pi equals 3.1459 and that “irregardless” is a junk word and that the back of my neck is grimy, I’m gonna believe her, too.



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