Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Words and Phrases that I'm Getting Worried About

The word 'incredulous' is the word that I'm concerned is losing its sense of identity today. I've heard three different people use it in the sense of 'incredible' recently. I know English is a constantly evolving language and we must all relax when this sort of thing goes on. The problem is, when a word like 'incredulous' gets railroaded into meaning something that it doesn't, what will we do when we want to express its original meaning? 'Disinterested' has already been almost bludgeoned into abandoning its own role and taking up a double act with 'uninterested'. I wish I could say that I would be incredulous if  'incredulous' joined 'incredible' to perform the same kind of vaudeville turn, but it wouldn't be true.

PS I've just realised that I regard as extremely hard to take seriously any communication that includes the phrase 'but hey'.

PPS But hey, that's just me, I guess.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds, well, 'problematic', but is it 'actionable'?

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  2. Hmm, horrid, and luckily I don't tend to hear these new usages too often as where I live people have generally learn their English from texbooks, Kipling, and Tom and Jerry cartoons. 'Hopefully', of course, is nearly always used these days in a sense perverted from the original one, but it's hard to imagine not using it.

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  3. we shoudl ask some 'hard working families' of the 'squeezed middle' what they think about this topic

    worst thing ever is australians ending a sentence with 'but', but.

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  4. I don't know if this has made it across the waters, but, in the US the newest and, to me, most maddening trend is people starting positive statements with "no." An interviewer, for instance, asks an actor if his parents were encouraging to him. The actor replies: "No. Yeah, they were great." GAAAAAHHHH!!!! It's nothing short of incredulous.

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  5. Thanks for flagging your interest, George (yes, I hate the word flagging too, in this sense).
    'Hopefully' is a lost cause, I think, Gadjo. What bits of Kipling are popular there, by the way?
    Worm - I love but, but.
    Chris - You may have got that from here, although we go, 'Yeah, no ...' rather than the other way round. I'm ashamed to say I'm really fond of it, although I don't know why.

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  6. zedders, Kipling is not actually 'popular', but with the rather, err, 'old-school' nature of Romanian schooling it's the sort of thing that The Kids are forced to learn by rote in order to better grasp the English language. I once got talking to a hopeless drunk here and he recited the whole of If--- to me to prove the point.

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