Present Imperfect21 December 2008
Time was, if you heard some news or a suggestion you liked, you might respond, “Good.” What with language being a casualty of inflation, what once was a thoroughly appropriate word was often supplanted by “Great!” Lately I’ve been hearing a ridiculous overuse of “Perfect.”
Really? Perfect? I doubt it. Unable to be improved upon? Unlikely.
I lament how the meanings of words become diluted. One such victim is “awesome.” The next time you hear someone use the word, consider if what they are referring to actually might fill anyone with awe.
I cringe at word misuse. “Unique” does not simply mean unusual, but rather “one of a kind.” One, only one! Something cannot be “very unique.” It might be mighty rare, or quite uncommon, or even “nearly unique,” but once it is unique, that’s it. Otherwise, it’s like saying that the light switch was turned “very off.” Or that something is “very perfect.” Can’t be.
Absurd abbreviations, in a deluded attempt to be hip, are another matter. Is anyone actually so hopeless as to follow an advertiser’s campaign and say “SoCo” instead of “Southern Comfort?” A local TV channel, in their onscreen graphic promoting upcoming programming, has inexplicably replaced the word “Tonight” with “Ton.” How does that help? And recently I heard that, in place of the aforementioned “perfect,” someone actually uttered, “Perf!”
Weakening words and their meanings results in our being less able to say precisely what we intend. Because both god and the devil are in the details, I decry the pervasive, lazy sloppiness that cuts our vocabulary off at the knees. Like littering, the discarding of clarity demonstrates humanity’s appalling apathy.
Alas, I realize it will only get worse. There’s no stopping the dumbing down of language. Hey, everyone’s doing it. Because after all, no one’s perf.