I am getting tired of our language and how empty it has become. Some examples: Something that is well done is now ‘great' or 'excellent', not just good. Something or someone pretty is ‘awesome.' Something special is now ‘unique' (even though the word means that there is only one of that kind). A good time or good dinner is ‘fabulous'. Even the f-word, one that was used in private only among working men, is now used by many people as a kind of hollow underlining the word to follow; "That f-ing big f-ing head went to his f-ing boss and actually asked for a f-ing raise." No, this wasn't some cabal of steel workers; it was a group of legal accountants. [I'd rather listen to the working guys.] Oh yes, and what about President Bush's use of ‘success' to describe the Iraq War? Or his calling hapless soldiers blown up by roadside bombs, ‘heroes,' when they are in fact victims?
I don't mind those words at all. But what if something really awesome happens, say the Second Coming? Is that as awesome as a good-looking girl? Or a new Einstein really uncovers a Unified Field Theory (one that makes more sense than strings)? Would that be merely excellent? Or, if LSD comes back into use, would one of those experiences be only fabulous?
It feels like the grade inflation in most colleges (worse in business schools). B+ is ‘barely passing.' A- is ‘all right'. A is ‘good.' How can anyone see how well the student really
We are running out of descriptor words (same goes for bad feelings or experiences). The language is now flat.
What can be done about it? Well, one solution could lie in new social groupings. No longer do we belong to big classes of people; we now belong to "tribes". The idea (stolen from Maffesoli) is that we use marketing and particularly the media as nuclei to form temporary, shifting alliances. Some of these are deep and lasting, some ephemeral. But each has a special language. There
are the places to find the new language. Think of ‘gnarly' or ‘foxy' or (other side) ‘skanky'. I am sure thee are out of date although they were current some time ago. Our slang of tiny tribes, some high placed, some on the edge, may be the salvation of the language. Unpleasant as much of it may be to our refined ears, at least it surpasses our empty blathering and puff-words that have no meaning.
Is this the grunting of an older guy? Yes. But it feels fabulous to write it.