Sorta like, er, lazy

The Australian

February 9 2011

UMMM, it’s a pet hate of mine. The words we use as punctuation marks instead of taking a nice, deep, aaaah, breath. I call them lazy words.

They’re verbal crutches – something to help prop up a sentence that is limping along; a resting word to lean on when one’s brain is blown.

My daughter’s generation uses that revolting word which is a teenage crime against literacy. The verbal comma “like”. “I ‘like’ want to ‘like’ go and ‘like’ see that film.” Last week one girl made me laugh out loud: “I really like like that food” – as in “I like the food, but in a kinda-like way.” “Kinda” being often paired with “like”, as a double assault on the eardrum.

An acquaintance uses the words “you know” but an even worse version – “y’nah” – in a very quick tongue-trip so it’s almost an inaudible grunt. He says it helps him think of the next word, poor thing.

Not that I can talk, or talk properly. Mine is another horror: “Do you know what I mean?” or rather “d’yanowotimin?” Translation: “Are you listening to me?” In my defence, men do need to be prodded regularly when women are talking to them.

A friend uses the parasitic “sort of” and “sort of like”: “The way I’m feeling is ‘sort of like’, a bit depressed.” Or, “Yes, I would ‘sort of’ prefer fish to chicken.”

The word “necessarily” is a good pause word which has absolutely no influence on the words preceding or following it, and nicely bastardises a sentence, allowing the brain-damaged speaker to rest. “I don’t n.e.c.e.s.s.a.r.i.l.y feel that it would be a good idea if he came to visit.” Related is: “I suppose”, a meaningless flourish for the beginning or end of any sentence.

“In reality” is a pretty bad one: “In reality, I don’t want to go and buy that dress today.” Or, simply put: “I suppose, in reality, I don’t kinda-like necessarily want to buy that ummm dress, d’yanowotimin? It’s sort of too hard to go shopping on like such a hot day.”

An old favourite with nannas is “and so forth” – “I went and visited the neighbours, and so forth and what have you.”

The worst thing about lazy words is you catch them from other people like a yawn. I found myself using the ultimate profanity – the word “like” – the other day when talking to my daughter. And I immediately headed to the bathroom to wash my mouth out with soap. I kinda think you all know what I like mean.


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3 Responses to Sorta like, er, lazy

  1. Jo Bainbridge 5 April 2011 at 11:38 am #

    ha ha! Then you can add in the lol; dykwim; brb; ily (didn’t realise how special this was coming from my son!) and so on in the communication melting pot. I have begun working on a dictionary with my 14 year old so I know what he means when he sends me texts or messages me on facebook. If I don’t, I may end up agreeing to something I have no idea I just said yes to! lol :o)

  2. ruth 16 March 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Don’t think there are every any excuses. We need to overcome our adversities not give in to them

  3. Jo-Anne Baker 16 March 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I know what you mean. As a psychologist I listen very carefully to word patterns and the things people say. But take pity, often it is just insecurity and a sense of inadequacy that makes ordinary people leaning on any pause word they can find.

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