Sunday, April 10, 2005


I'm still snuffling but also bored, so here I am thinking about things that annoy me. Usually I don't sweat the small stuff. That said, one of my tenderest spots for annoyance is how people say things. My usually open-minded ears pretty near jump off my head in frustration at verbal fads. That's what I call it when people start saying things a certain, irritatingly incorrect way, then more people say it, then more people.

Some of these fads are cyclical and generational. An example of this is "like," or "ya' know," peppering conversation. Teenagers almost all have a "like" or "ya' know" phase. I can live with this. It's kind of endearing, like when a teenage boy's face turns to plasticene for a year or so (Laura Moran reminded me about this in her poem, "Middle School String Ensemble") or when a girl gets breasts or first tries wearing makeup. They're all rites of passage, wholly reassuring in their predictable appearance.

The verbal fads I dislike are the ones adopted by educated, thoughtful grownups who should know better. Here are my current and unfavourite examples:

  • insane - as in "They still don't have jalapenos at SubWay. That makes me insane." Insane is no longer a medical term. Maybe it's a legal one still? It denotes a level of mental illness that renders a person unaccountable for his or her own actions. The computer helpdesk not calling you back, or a lack of jalapenos at your favourite lunch spot is not sufficient cause to claim insanity. Also, you cannot become insane 10-15 times a day for different reasons. Once you are insane, you are insane. For at least a couple of years. At least I think so. PLEASE SUBSTITUTE: "ANNOYED" (They still don't have jalapenos at SubWay. That makes me annoyed.)
  • t=ch This is when people stop pronouncing the letter "t" and substitute "ch." As in "Choronto" (a city in Ontario) and "Chuesday" (the day after Monday). It just sounds awful (but it does NOT drive me insane). It does not sound cool. It sounds stupid. And I mean STTTUPID, not "schtupid." PLEASE SUBSTITUTE: "T" (Toronto, Tuesday, Ta-ra-ra-boom-dee-yay)
  • "I seen" as in "I seen that new movie with John Travolta in it. Have you?" I heard a woman call in to CBC radio this morning. She said "I seen your contest in my local paper..." I wouldn't say anything if I thought this was coming from someone who didn't read books, or wasn't exposed to intelligent conversation. But I'm pretty sure that smart people who know better are picking up this trailer talk just to sound what...worldly? I don't know. I just don't know. PLEASE SUBSTITUTE: "I SAW" (I saw a saw on the sea horse. I don't know what the sea horse saw.)

I've been trying to figure out why this kind of thing bugs me so much. I know I don't speak perfectly, and I probably have my own annoying mannerisms (besides just talking too much in general). But I'm allowed to be annoyed, and even say so once in a while.

I've tried to figure out why people would adopt these mannerisms or verbal fads. Perhaps it's a way of fitting in and distinguishing one's self simultaneously. This is the eternal paradox of fads in general. I want to be cool and different, but only if everyone else is being cool and different just like me.

I guess the best thing to do is ignore them and get over it. The less I think about them, the less I notice them. Maybe I could write a whole bunch into a poem, but probably nobody would get it. Worse, maybe some fad-follower would think something I said was cool, then he or she might emulate it, and I'd add to the problem. Guess I'll leave it alone.

Question: Why be bothered?

mompoet - because I can

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