Friday, July 25, 2008

How to Totally Destroy Your Date

I am convinced that if any one of us were dropped via time machine into decent society in, say, 1901, we would be unable to sit through a dinner without insulting someone, or obtain a job that requires proper speech, such as anything other than work as a shepherd.

Language usage has changed so much in a hundred short years that we now, as a matter of course, use words that were considered terribly vulgar not that long ago. Of course, this vulgarization of language is also easily seen by anyone who remembers television before the onset of cable, and we do not need to actually travel back a hundred years, we can just go back to 1975, where I would have gotten spanked for saying the word "buttocks" at my grandmother's house.

Did you know that the word date when used for appointment or engagement was vulgar? Well-spoken people were to avoid saying," I've got a date for tomorrrow," as it was seen as coarse. Now everyone has a date. Play dates, lunch dates, hot dates.

The word destroyed as used back in the day, deserves a closer look. As we know, destroyed means that which has ceased to exist, been knocked to pieces or put to an end. The well-spoken were urged to avoid the phrases totally destroyed as tautological.

Forgetting for a moment that about 5% of modern English users know what "tautological" means, try to imagine anyone who who doesn't have to worry about microwaves messing with their pacemaker, saying the word "destroyed" without using "totally" in front of it. It just doesn't happen. The city can't be destroyed in the earthquake, it has to be totally destroyed.

The kitten didn't destroy the my new blouse, he totally destroyed my new blouse, as if "totally" conveys the emotional difficulty of dealing with the destruction. As if "destroy" by itself isn't bad enough, or complete.

Like, totally.

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