Daily Prompt – No, Thank You. If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?
There are lots of words that people use in everyday conversation today that I find irritating. It isn’t so much the words that offend me as the context, or lack thereof, in which the word is used. Take my pet hate for instance, the word ‘like’.
Having three children in the house two of whom are teenagers you can imagine the word ‘like’ can be somewhat overused.
‘I was like, “oh my God”, and she was like, “no way!” Like, we were both like…’
Sound familiar? I would compare this to people who swear habitually and feel obliged to insert an expletive at least every third or fourth word in every sentence they utter. This is quite debilitating for the speaker as it breaks up the flow of their speech and the expletive becomes a superfluous adverb with no real use in the sentence other than to convey the speaker’s lack of vocabulary, or anger at some aspect of their subject.
The insertion of the swear word seems to have the effect of distracting the speaker from whatever it was that they were trying to say, so that they forget or fail to recall the appropriate word. Expletives are often used as substitute word inserted whenever the user is struggling to summon a better one. They are often accompanied by an undertone of aggression as the speaker seems to experience a frustration at being unable to communicate or to articulate their feelings or their intended message.
Back now to like. The creeping superfluous use of this word is insidious. If you hear it used in conversation too frequently it becomes all too easy to adopt the habit yourself, as I almost did. I decided enough was enough when our youngest child Rafael began picking up this habit from his older siblings, and his conversation became so broken up with the liberal peppering of ‘like’ that he was going backwards in his language development.
I set about a campaign of addressing every unnecessary use of the word ‘like’ that the children employed. I ridiculed, cajoled, berated and lectured in varying degrees whenever this verbal disease showed a symptom. Both the older children are grammar school pupils with excellent command of the English language so it saddened me greatly to see them portray themselves as inarticulate oafs. OK, a bit strong maybe, but if I were capable of judging a person by the language they employ so too might others such as their potential employers, their peers and their future partners.
Little by little I won the war and the illness began to clear up. Today all three of the children appear to be symptom free and their communication skills are nothing short of exemplary. The word ‘like’ has been returned to its proper place with only the occasional slip which is usually followed by a grin as they catch themselves doing it.
There are so many different aspects to being a parent it is difficult to be good at all of them and of course I am not. I have my strengths and my wife, Loly has others. She plugs many of the gaps that I leave and I, well I fill a few she doesn’t. I am of the opinion that how a person looks and how they represent themselves to others is of fundamental importance in having a successful, happy life where potential can be realized.
Some idiots claim that it doesn’t matter what other people think, but that’s just hogwash – it is essential.
Sometimes, it must be said, I feel like Canute, futilely commanding the tide to go back while the waves wash over my feet. But there are other times (and they are many) when I realize that all these little battles, every incremental gain moves them an inch or two closer to being a well-rounded and capable individual, able to make the most of their talents and seize life’s opportunities when they come along.
And that makes it all like, so worth it.