Goodbye Barry - Welcome Home AMERICA!

Friday, May 28, 2010

"At The End Of The Day..." - like, I mean, you know - ANNOYING!

I may be too easily annoyed but there are a few things (read - thousands) that just bug the hell out of me. People talking on their cell phones while operating a motor vehicle is one. I've even seen a guy on a motorcycle doing that! It's not like riding a motorcycle isn't dangerous enough in and of itself, but to do something like that increases the moron factor by about 9. Somebody put way too much chlorine in their gene pool. But that's not what this gripe session is about. It's about the rampant abuse of the (American) English language which, thanks in large part to Noah Webster, is an abuse of "the King's English".

Among my personal unfavorites are the improper use of "like", "I mean" and "you know?". When one says "it's like" they are saying that condition A approximates condition B - there are some shared characteristics between the two things. Here's an example of a fairly common misuse of "like" - "I told Pete about it, and he was like 'OMG!'" What characteristic could Pete possibly share with her God... or had he effectively become her God? However, the oft-abused and misused "like" is a relatively recent arrival on the hackneyed phrases scene. The abuse of the word "like" began in the 1980s with the introduction of "Valley-Speak", a highly inflected version of American English as practiced by the young girls (Val-Gals) of the San Fernando Valley area of California, and imitated by all the "cool kids" around the country.

Many people actually begin some sentences with "I mean". I ask you... how can a person clarify or expound upon something they haven't yet said? Say what you mean initially and you can avoid abusing "I mean". This grammatical faux pas has been with us for decades!

Then there's the issue of misusing "you know?"... and we all know people who inject "you know?" into their speech patterns as an interrogatory. If you are speaking in a language that the person you are speaking with understands, and if you avoid the excessive use of jargon, cant or idiom, your chances of engaging in an effective communication are greatly enhanced. You will alleviate the need to finish your sentences with "you know?". This one has been around longer than I have.

Interestingly, the three preceding items are generally only found in verbal communications, and rarely - if ever - in written communications.

The current King of Hackney seems to be the phrase "At the end of the day...". Those six little words have been worked to death over the past several months. Exactly where is the end of the day to which those people (primarily broadcast media talk show hosts and guests) refer? At what point in time has it been reached? Is it when they get off work? Is "the end of the day" at sunset, when it is no longer "day"time, but technically nighttime? Is it when they retire to bed for the evening? Or is it the end of the temporal day at midnight? They are talking about the culmination of something, but there are many other ways to express the concept of an activity which has reached fruition. Here are a few that express exactly the same thought:
"When night falls..."
"At the stroke of midnight..."
"When the chickens come home to roost..."
"As the sun sinks slowly below the western horizon..."
At the same time there are other "tried and true" hackneyed phrases that can be substituted for "At the end of the day...", such as:
"When the fat lady sings... (or the PC version, "When the BBW sings...")
"When all is said and done..."
"When it's all over but the shouting..."
"When there's nothing more to be said..."

I mean, at the end of the day it's like... whatever! We have gotten quite sloppy in our use of the predominant language of the USA. Give us another ten years and we'll have developed a competitor for Esperanto. If you consider yourself to be an adult then speak like an adult, not like some airhead kid.

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