Maybe I am getting old. I remember a time when TV and water were free and pornography cost money. Now I’m certainly not a Grammar-Nazi or a word-nerd, especially given the locker-room opinions I spew weekly (some would say “weakly”). But people out there really need to focus on cleaning up their language, especially as it relates to overusing three words that are dumbing down the English language: "like," "literally" and "amazing."
For the 40-and-unders out there, you know how you use the word “like” in like every other sentence? Don’t!
When folks my age, those who can remember the TV show "Cheers," interview you for a job, the use of the word “like” as some filler crutch word is maddening. And when done in a high-pitched, nasal, Kardashian-Valley Girl way, it’s akin to torturing us. It makes you seem vapid, imprecise and, quite frankly, stupid. This has gone on too long, and I have been meaning to say something about it. So please, stop it.
You know how you kids use the word “amazing,” like, all the time? Don’t.
Witnessing your child’s birth is amazing. Your sandwich from Whole Foods is not “amazing.” Neither are the jeans Ashley just bought nor the top she wears with it. The synonyms in the dictionary for "amazing" include astonishing, wonderment, astounding, stunning, shocking, breathtaking, spectacular, stupendous and phenomenal. Ashley’s jeans have been mass produced in a sweatshop in China for 50 years; there is nothing “amazing” about them. So please stop using “amazing” for anything mildly above average.
People who are constantly “amazed” are low-IQ folks. The words “like” and “amazing” tend to be used by young women. For some reason, the men of this generation have taken to ending their sentences with a groan or a tapered-off grunt. I'm not sure why that started happening, but it is also annoying. Please stop.
Lastly, you know how both men and women use the word “literally” way too often? Please stop.
"Literally" is a crutch word, one used when you are trying to bring emphasis to an otherwise boring story about yourself. I heard a guy say the other day, “It was literally raining cats and dogs.” Now unless there was an explosion at the humane shelter, this cannot “literally” be true. For "literally" to work, what you are saying must have a figurative meaning that is actually happening. That does not occur every other sentence when you are telling a story about you and your roommate Skeeter going to a concert. If you use it too much, you can join a literary society — Americans Who Figuratively Use Literally, or A.W.F.U.L.
While on her book tour to blame everyone but herself for losing the election, Hillary Clinton was asked about her reaction to the results. “I was gobsmacked.” Is it any wonder her use of awkwardly condescending words like "gobsmacked" did not appeal to the middle-class Deplorables in America? Say what you will about Trump, he speaks simply and in blue-collar language America understands, not in pretentious words meant to show how smart he is.
Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author, and TV/radio commentator. You can reach him at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.