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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trendy Words

If there is one thing that stultifies a conversation, it is trendy words.  By trendy words I mean not only words that are in vogue with society at large, but words that are trending - as we say in googlespeak - in one's personal vocabulary.  Our friends and family say nothing about these verbal tics but await with creeping dread for us to trot out our personal favorites.

For my own part, I succumb not so much to trendy words as trendy phrases.  In the above paragraph, for example, the phrase "trot out."  I love saying that and trot it out whenever the opportunity presents itself.  The metaphor implies something is a kind of show pony, and no doubt has plaited ribbons in its mane.

Another phrase, and this is a jewel to me, is "I can't imagine what could possibly go wrong."  I use it right and left, whenever something is clearly about to go wrong - watching Nancy stick a fork into a toaster to retrieve a bagel for example.  This phrase never fails to get a chuckle.  From me.

A Reader's Digest kind of approach to improving one's conversation is to make a conscious effort to employ a new word at least three times in one's conversation.  This is invidious advice.  You might as well equip a sales manager with a post-hole digger.  The effort to use it is sure to result in its being misused.  Trotting out an unusual word is a crime of opportunity - there's another pet phrase of mine, "crime of opportunity," used in conjunction with "trotting out" for added topspin.  (Topspin, damn it, that's another one!)

The point I'm endeavoring to establish is that rather than the well-intentioned but misguided effort to use new words, we would be better off to avoid using old ones, or at least ones whose primary appeal was novelty and whose novelty has worn thin.  To demonstrate my seriousness about this, I hereby vow not to use the following phrases - "trot out" "I don't know what could possibly go wrong" "crime of opportunity" and "topspin."  It won't be easy, but that's the point.  Since I won't be able to fall back on my old tropes, I'll have to come up with new ones.  I'm working on one right now involving mastodons and ax-heads.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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