Category: Cleaning Out the Language Gutters

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: Cleaning out the language gutters 2013

Just like a picture of mouths, these words don't say a damn thing.
Just like a picture of mouths, these words don’t say a damn thing.

According to a count performed by Google and Harvard in 2010, there were 1,022,000 words in the English language with an estimated 8,500 words added each year. The average speaker, however, only knows anywhere from 12,000 to 21,000 words. And though that still seems like a lot, we manage to mangle, twist and abuse certain words until they not only lose their original meaning, but appear to have lost all meaning whatsoever.

If these words were leaves, they would have directly bypassed being dried out and brittle, lying on the ground for any old user to pick up and twirl around. Instead, they were deposited into the gutter and, through overuse, become a moldy, muddy, indecipherable goop that prevents the language from moving forward.

They are the words people resort to when they actually have nothing to say, usually when “you’re having just too much fun” or when it’s time to define insanity for everyone all over again. (This phrase, that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is both the definition and cause of my own insanity.)

That is why, every couple of years, I contract myself out to the English language, cleaning out this meaningless morass in hopes that those who resort to them will find new words. (Or say nothing at all.) Here’s what I found in the gutters for 2013.  Continue reading

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: Cleaning out the language gutters for 2012

Every year, Michigan’s Lake Superior University and I like to take stock of the English language. The school lets students nominate words that they feel have become misused, overused and cliché, and the winners are compiled into a list for your banishment consideration. This is a valuable lesson in democracy in which students learn that they can make nominations and cast votes, while a college has the liberty of overriding their decision.

I refer to this act as “cleaning out the language gutters,” which should be performed yearly lest they fill with water and gunk, and then freeze and burst. After all, if I wanted to persist with a language full of ridiculous words, I would have continued taking Spanish in college. Continue reading

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Economic cliches for $1000, Alex, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: 10 reasons you’re unemployed

We’re officially halfway through December, which means one thing: retrospective. In only two weeks, a new year will dawn, and with it comes dreams of a better tomorrow to make up for this past suckfest.

And if there’s one word to describe why 2010 sucked with extreme gusto, it’s unemployment.

2010 was the year of the job hunt and many are either still searching or settled for positions below human decency, like marketing. But it’s not their fault, right? It’s a tough job market, and they joined LinkedIn and pushed resumes like counterfeit bills in a sex mall.

Wrong. According to LinkedIn, there are 10 very specific reasons why you’re still un- or under-employed. Continue reading

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, War on Education

Pet peeve much? Absolutely

Look, we hate pissing all over someone else’s linguistics work, especially when they’re pointing 0ut an overused and subsequently undervalued word. Frequent readers of this site may be familiar with my own work in this field, “Cleaning Out the Language Gutters.”

And that’s not to say that John Blake of CNN wasn’t on the right path, but it’s hard to argue why a word is frequently used in inappropriate situations since he never bothered to define that word.

So, congratulations, John: from your hamfisted examples of Barack Obama using the word, to quotes from jackoffs realizing their “problem” and an O.J. Simpson reference, you absolutely dropped the ball on this one.

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: Decadence is the problem

I pass at least three of these a day in my Toyota Tacoma.

You ever notice how marketers get hooked on words or spellings? Like how everything got a “2000” after it in the ’90s to make it sound futuristic? Or anything beginning with “ex” was spelled with an “X” to remind you of snowboarders skydiving into a live volcano?

If Lever 2000, which is just f##king soap, and the X-wife that took one of your testicles in your divorce taught you anything, it’s that Madison Avenue is lined with useless professionals. By “useless professional,” I mean someone who wears a tie to an office where they produce nothing but email and post-lunch dumps.

This group, more than any, causes me to look at the English language and evaluate which words have been abused and twisted to the point that they no longer have meaning. I’ve termed this, “cleaning out the language gutters,” in the same spirit that Brazilians used to burn street orphans to “end poverty.”

(I may not actually solve problems with the English language, but at least I won’t have to look at the word anymore and think, “Why? Why didn’t I do something?!”)

This week, I’m looking at the latest word to have been chewed up by some undergrad yuppie and spit into our living rooms: decadence. Continue reading

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: Cleaning out the language gutters, part II

It was brought to my attention that there are a few words that I left out of my last purge of the English language.  Of course, that was not a definitive list-merely the beginning of an ongoing renovation project.

The criteria is simple: once a word has been abused, sullied and tarred-and-feathered to the point that it is rendered meaningless, I will take it to the shed and put it out of its misery with a bullet between the eyes.  It’s all done humanely, and I always gather the torn out dictionary pages with some friends for a good cry.  Afterwards, we get drunk and mangle the rest of the language.

Continue reading

| Posted in Cleaning Out the Language Gutters, Take it from Snee

Take it from Snee: Cleaning out the language gutters

Every few years, I find that it’s time to clean out the old lexicon. Everyday language is a constantly evolving collection of trendy phrases from movies, literature, music and–as The Guys would like to think–blogs.

But as time marches on, those phrases cease to remain useful. Sometimes they’re no longer relevant, other times they’ve been brow-beaten so low that they no longer hold any real meaning. It’s time to flush these five clichés so we can make room for newer, more interesting terms.

Continue reading