Now I am hardly the World’s brightest and I am not the most cultured. In fact my East End of London upbringing means that I easily drop my “H”s and on occasions sound like I am a Barrow Boy or have been working on the Market for a number of years.
However, there are some words and phrases which make me cringe, particularly when they are used often. “Basically”, what I mean is that “at the end of the day” “it is what it is”, but “here’s the thing”, “if it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be” because “everything happens for a reason”, “going forward”. The last of these is beginning to become a favourite among a wide range of professionals, particularly when they are doing presentations or speaking to groups. What on earth does it mean???? This phrase and so many others are time fillers, spaces to think, words for when we run out of words and anything useful to say. I have just managed to create a sentence out of those phrases which contains plenty of words but says absolutely nothing! It is a sign of laziness most of the time.
I put swearing in the same sort of camp. Yes I understand that swearing can be an involuntary response to something surprising or shocking. However, it is not uncommon to hear swear words peppering conversations used routinely. As far as I am concerned that both shows a limited vocabulary and is pretty lazy.
The current craze for text speak (or maybe txt spk) simply adds to the problem. It is likely that this will lead to increased illiteracy at some level or another.
Is anyone going to take any notice of this? No I shouldn't expect so. I make the point though because words can be so creative, so special, and so expressive. To sink into lazy language is just a bit of a disappointment. As wordsmiths go I am not likely to set the World on fire but I do believe in a small way I can craft words into something special that can inspire, motivate and communicate.
In the Bible Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. That seems to me to be wise advice whether or not one is a person of faith. It takes its place alongside Colossians 4:6a “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt”.
Lazy or wanting to exercise ourselves in speaking and writing that really does mean something?