It’s a sad fact that Orwell’s time of words meaning what we want them to mean now appears to be upon us.
I blame the Americans. Known as the nation of convenience, they have now conveniently taken our language and inserted their own meaning where a good, British one once lay. For example: you will now find middle managers from Swindon referring to buying a second Americano from Costa as a ‘re-up’; borrowed from Baltimore slang. Utterly horrible. But it’s not just the Americans of course, we Britons have a lot to answer for and one of them in particular. Picture the scene if you will; we were sitting in a nice bar, on a sofa, it was a quiet Thursday night and there was a bottle of Prosecco next to us.
“So,” Helen said. “She has a boyf?”
I’m not joking ladies and gentleman, she actually said ‘boyf’. It’s fortunate that she’s a good friend because I stared at her and said “What? WHAT was that?” She looked bemused. “Did you actually SAY ‘boyf’?”
Now she looked surprised, “Yes. I think I did.”
Unknowingly, she had tapped into one of my most hated trends at the moment – the bastardisation of the English language. It’s a strong sentence, I know, but I feel strongly about it. As do many others, apparently.
Language has to evolve, we all know and accept that. When you compare modern day parlance with Chaucerian English, the latter looks like a foreign language. But, how far can we take it before the English language ceases to become a language and instead exists as a jumbled mess of sounds? So often these days a word has been shortened to less than half its original length, or a new meaning completely has been assigned to it. For example, ‘sank’. We all know what ‘sank’ means, it’s when something sinks, like a ship to the bottom of the sea. But no, not any more it doesn’t. ‘Sank’ now means ‘something’; but you must say it in an over-exaggerated Essex accent – thanks TOWIE. This isn’t evolution! This really is bastardisation! There are now complete sentences being structured like “Awww, that makes me totes emosh.” Translation: “That makes me very emotional.” Why can’t people talk properly?? Why is it necessary to use stupid abbreviations? I saw an utter horror the other day – ‘apparently’ had become ‘appaz’. It made my eyeballs itch.
Two things are happening here: either the whole word is replaced, as in ‘appaz’, or the word is just being horrifically shortened, think ‘whatevs’ and ‘obvs’. Which, when you think about it, is our language literally being eradicated, half a word by half a word. So many people these days are ‘buying tix’ or ‘going for dins’. My friends actual boss was overheard saying “Are we ok? It’s just that I don’t want there to be an atmos.” I mean, what is WRONG with saying the entire word? AtmosPHERE.
The really worrying thing however is not that some people are being lazy/cool and using these awful words, it’s how the ghastly way of speaking is creeping into cultural media and therefore securing its continuation towards ultimate acceptance. Look at the words now in the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘twerk’, ‘derp’, ‘selfie’. I don’t even know what two of those mean. The announcer on Sky has started saying ‘eps’ rather than ‘episodes’, Davina McCall informs us that we must ask ‘permish’ to vote on Got To Dance and perhaps worst of all the Today programme on Radio 4 has been heard to use “thanks both” rather than “thanks both of you” and “go with” rather than “go with him/her/it”. That’s leaving out the crucial part of the sentence. When the standard of BBC English slips…..well, I despair.
And if you find yourself flying BA you will inevitably be asked “Can I get anything for yourself at all?” which makes me want to cover my ears and rock in a corner. It’s despicable on several levels when you consider that the sentence should actually be: “Would you like anything?” How can the meaning of words have been misconstrued to such lengths? It barely makes sense.
However, I have saved my personal horrors until now, *rubs hands in glee*, get ready for the hideousness……..
“I was sat.” NO! NO, YOU BLOODY WELL WERE NOT, you “were sitting”. Please, I beg of you all, no more “I was sat”. PLEASE.
And this I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes; in a children’s Bible a good Samaritan was described as “fixing the man’s owies”. I rest my case. I realise that the entire King James translation is not appropriate, but how about something like “dressing his wounds”? That’s hardly beyond the reach of children. Encouraging baby speech is a crime all of its own; I think one of the best attributes in an adult is speaking eloquently. Being able to express yourself with intelligent words is a valuable and under-recognised skill.
To return to my friend Helen, when I questioned her incredulously about saying ‘boyf’ out loud she looked surprised at herself and replied “I don’t know why I said it. I’ve never said it before. It just came out.” Arghhhh!!!!! That’s how socially acceptable this dreadful jargon has become.
Here is a list of the Worst Words I can think of. Enjoy.
Hubby or hubz
Om nom nom or just ‘nom’ (this I think I loathe above all others)
Fambo or fam
‘Can I haz…”
Anyone who uses these should be incarcerated immediately in somewhere like Bodmin Gaol. Oh and people who say “I’ve had a mare of a day so I’m going for a cheeky drink” make me want to spontaneously combust.
Gawjus…..mahoosive…..Maccy D’s…….tomoz…….If I ever catch myself saying any of these, I shall be self-referring to an asylum for the criminally insane. Which you’d have to be to use any of the words listed willingly. The English language is malleable and that is arguably one of its best attributes, but it is now being taken too far. English is now being dragged, ripped apart and tiny shreds of what it once was is all that remains. Does no-one think of the kiddiwinks of tomoz? If we’re not careful we’ll have to say “Soz u peeps ain’t got no English to go with, we know it’s not swag, but YOLO so….”
Think on, my friends, think on.