I now nominate “unmitigated disaster” to join the ranks of “awesome” as one of the most overused, misused and meaningless expressions in the English language.
To join countless scores of others through the ages (sick, rad, bitchin’, etc., fill in the blank — I can’t keep up).
I bring this up because, as I was tooling around in my car this morning on the way to work, a sports jock on radio predicted the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics would be an “unmitigated disaster.”
So, let’s mitigate it.
You see what I mean? It’s meaningless verbiage. Makes you sound knowledgeable while masking your meaninglessness, or rather, mindlessness.
Like “awesome.” Does that word really mean anything except, “I can’t think of a sincere thing to say, so here’s the most current cop-out”?
The Bard expired 400 years ago today on April 23, 1616, but what about Miguel de Cervantes, the first modern novelist? Spain evidently used a different calendar than England, but factoring in differences in the approaches of the two calendars (Gregorian v. Julian), William Shakespeare and Cervantes could well have died on the same day.
There is even some speculation that Shakespeare adopted at least one character from Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote in a lost co-authored play, “The History of Cardenio.”
Let’s make a movie, “The Secret Rendezvous of Shakespeare and Cervantes,” taking mysterious place during Shakespeare’s lost years of 1585 to 1592.
Has to be better than “Shakespeare in Love.” But so are most cartoons.
Ever notice that no one on TV, radio or in public can utter the word me anymore?
It’s now “Just between you and I” or “Between you and myself.”
The accusative form of the first person singular has been banished from the English language in favor of political correctness.
Me is rough-edged, Trumpian, no doubt a vast right wing conspiracy to boot.
I could wail on and on about how prepositions require the accusative form or remind people that myself is a reflexive pronoun that can be used only to complement either I or me, never by itself.
Wouldn’t matter. I might as well hoist a rifle a la Charleton Heston and proclaim the sanctity of the Second Amendment. I’d be castigated as that great a threat to our country.
As for me, I’ll continue to be un-PC, Trumpian, NRA-ish and part of the vast right wing conspiracy that believes correct English is a beautiful thing and shouldn’t be politicized.
Recent studies, according to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal, reveal that students who take handwritten notes in class comprehend more and retain more than those who take notes on laptops or other devices.
This despite the fact that hand note-takers can, on average, write 22 words a minute, compared to 33 words a minute for lap-takers. Even with more notes, then, those who rely on technology generally fare a bit worse in comprehension and retention of information.
“The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing — the ability to take note more quickly — was what undermined learning,” observed educational psychologist Kenneth Kiewra of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
To be honest, though, the laptop note-takers had better install recall when quizzed right after taking their notes, according to a Washington University (St. Louis) study in 2012, but after 24 hours and more, the hand note-takers excelled.
The key seems to be that taking notes by hand also forces the note-taker to think about what he or she is scribbling down. Laptop noting is more like rote work.
At any rate, the article — “The Power of Handwriting” — is well worth a read.
Problem is, though I hyperlinked the article, WSJ often truncates direct links. But here’s a trick: type the title of the article into a Google search and you’ll be granted access to the full article.
(I just checked, and the online WSJ edition uses a different headline, so you’ll need to search for that: “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter.”
I understand that the word disabled could have a sort of pejorative connotation, which is why we in the U.S. have come up with alternate expressions, such as physically challenged.
However, while I was recently watching TV news from India (as in the place on the Asian Subcontinent), a scrolling headline referred to an airline passenger who was differently abled and was provided a wheelchair upon arrival. (Not sure what the news angle was here.)
I can see our coming up with different expressions to avoid pigeonholing or denigrating people, but the whole political correctness nonsense in the U.S. is aimed at silencing anybody who disagrees with the liberal media and the liberal power merchants in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
Whatever his other virtues or egregious faults may be, Donald Trump would be a great president in terms of ending our nationwide PC madness (i.e., censorship), even if he does nuke Denmark, as Ted Cruz has warned.
A job interview:
“Tell me what your forte [pronounced for-tay] is.”
“You mean my forte [pronounced fort]?”
“No, this is not cowboys and Indians. I need to know your forte [fortay] for this position.”
Interview over, applicant walks out disgusted at the misuse of forte.
I confess, I have to thank TV newscaster Leyna Nguyen (pronounced “win,” as she explained during the same telecast) for the distinction between the French forte, meaning “strength,” and the Italian forte, for “loud” in musical rendition.
One’s strength is pronounced fort, and the musical emphasis is pronounced fortay.
But don’t tell your boss that if he or she asks you for your forte (fortay).
Just break out your violin, and play it loudly.
Rather than giving me free flights, American Airlines subscribed me to a slew of magazines, including Sports Illustrated, where today I came upon this sentence referring to Miami Heat player Chris Bosh:
“Bosh will have to take on a new role in Miami, but such matters no longer phase the 10-time All-Star.”
Poor writing, worse copy-editing and nonexistent proofreading.
Here’s the definition of phase from dictionary.com: “to schedule or order so as to be available when or as needed.”
And here’s the definition of faze: “to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted; daunt.”
In my elderly phase of life, I was fazed by such sloppy English.
Consider this: Zhuangbility (pronounced roughly “jangbility”) is a great Chinese fusion word meaning “pretending to be great.”
The word is so popular on the Mainland — I assume as a put-down of the high and mighty — that the Cyberspace Administration for China (CAC) is hoping to ban it from usage online.
Let them ban it. I can find voluminous uses for it stateside, without naming any names.
Diaosi, roughly “loser,” is also being frowned upon in Chinese cyberspace. But geili, or “awesome,” and dianzan, “like” as in a Facebook like, have been given the official imprimatur.
The CAC denies this is an attempt at censorship (“I’m shocked, shocked — censorship in China?”), but is designed “to create a comfortable living space for netizens.”
The above sentence was voiced by a female coworker today who was trying to convince a male row-mate how his wife could get mad at him over something that seemed so true and transparent to him.
I immediately chimed in with my agreement, remembering all the times in the past when my wife would get on my case despite my noblest of intentions and wisest of actions, or so I deemed that at the time.
I even ventured a step further and opined, perhaps sexist-ly, that “Men are born wrong.”
Anyway, I just wanted to throw this out there to solicit comments and reactions, and, I guess, to see if anyone really reads this blog.
I‘ve long used the adjective and noun doofitic to describe a person like me who is a certified doofus.
Now, I’m not sure if there’s a generally accepted definition (or spelling) of doofus, but let me generalize in saying that such a person routinely commits whacky, off-the-wall, unintelligible, even socially unacceptable actions — all harmless — without either control or consciousness of such actions. In my case, I’m conscious of my doofity but unable to control it.
As I was walking my three dogs this morning in 9 a.m.Riverside’s 102-degree temperatures, I pondered why the four of us belonged so naturally together. It was then that the word doofitic re-emerged. We’re all doofuses, I concluded — in other words, a natural pairing. When we’re together, nothing else matters. We’re are own little world.
It was then that I got thinking of an alternative to doofitic to make it more readily understandable, and I came up with doofusotic. And now that we’re back from the dog park, another word comes to mind — doofusness.
Let’s add all three of these verbal morsels to the social lexicon.
And doofuses of the world, let’s unite. We have nothing to lose but our “who cares?” attitude!