Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some Phrases We Can Do Without

One phrase that really grates on me is “sounds like a plan.”
To begin with, it either is a plan or it isn’t a plan.
If it merely sounds like a plan (but it’s not actually a plan) why bother pursuing it?
But my real problem is this: I just don’t like plans.
I naturally resist plans and planning. I don’t make “to do” lists and I don’t go through life making plans. I like to be spontaneous. I like to be surprised.
And, like a lot of words and phrases that are overused, “sounds like a plan” doesn’t surprise me anymore. It doesn’t interest me.
In fact, so many words and phrases are used so often that they are sounding the death knell for simple, original, concise and creative thought and expression.
Here are a few of the culprits:
Disingenuous. I don’t know how disingenuous became the Word of the Moment but it’s time to get this straight: To use “disingenuous” is to be disingenuous. This is a snob word.
When you are disingenuous it means you are evasive. You’re two-faced or devious or sneaky or downright dishonest. You may be a flat out liar. Which makes disingenuous a 20 dollar word for something that isn’t worth more than a few cents. So let’s call this what it is and stop wasting five syllables on it. You lie!
Just sayin . . . – OK, but if you’re “just sayin” am I supposed to slough that off? Should I ignore it? Or, does that mean I should lend it added importance? In other words, what in hell are you tryin to say when you’re “just sayin”? Yes, I understand that when you’re just sayin you’re sort of trying to diffuse any hard feelings that I might have about what it is that you’re saying. Well, not for nothing, but this sounds just plain dumb. No offense, but ya know what I mean? Ditch it.
Shout out – Hey, do me a favor. If you want to greet me or recognize me in some way please don’t give me a “shout out.” To begin with, I don’t like people shouting out, at or to me. Still, this phrase persists.
It’s gotten so bad that on the day of the tragic Fort Hood massacre the President of the United States incorporated this crude and inappropriate lingo into his public remarks. Yes, the president was forced to react quickly as he segued from one topic to another. But the casual use of this all-too-common phrase robbed his remarks of any relevance on what should have been a very serious and somber occasion.
Bottom line - Hey, guess what? If everything is the bottom line, then there really is no bottom line after all. So now, this phrase has lost all the meaning it might have once had.
Just when I think you’ve come to the bottom line, you have more to show me or there are added costs or you have more to say or there are more conditions and caveats. Yesterday’s bottom line has become today’s starting point. And, in the middle of an economic crisis, do we really want to know the bottom line anyway? Avert your eyes.
Under water – You owe more than it’s worth. You’re in debt. Your biggest investment went kaput. Get it? When I think of  natural tragedies like snowstorms, monsoons, tsunamis and floods, I don’t want to hear about being “under water.” Since I'm not a very good swimmer, the phrase itself makes me gasp for breath. It’s all too overwhelming.
It’s time to get our heads above the muck of this colloquial swamp and try thinking and talking and writing clearly.
Let’s not just think outside the box, let’s destroy the box altogether and start saying what we mean and meaning what we say.
How’s that for a plan?

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