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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why do so many American adults talk like babies? Or imbeciles?

Like many old farts, I detest the degeneration of American English, which I frequently witness on streets, in offices, in stores and restaurants, on the phone, in classrooms, in movies and on TV.

I'm particularly pissed off about the substitution of "HEY" for "hello." It seemed to have made a rapid transition from playgrounds to CSI Las Vegas and then to the rest of the world. When I was a child, If I used that word, my mother would scold me with "Hay is for horses -- not for people!"


I'm even more pissed off by the use of "WAS LIKE" as a replacement for "said." It seemed to start with Hollywood's dimwitted blonde bimbettes and even spread to the White House! Time magazine quoted George Dubya Bush using that stupid phrase. Mrs. Obama seems to say it every day. I hope the First Daughters know better.

Both Dubya and Barack regularly say "GUNNA" instead of "going to." That's not the way English was spoken at Yale and Harvard when they were students there
I'm also annoyed by what I see as the rampant infantilization (if that's not a word, it should be) of speech. Kiddie Talk and Baby Talk are creeping into adult conversations, and even book, movie and TV show titles.

I confess to sometimes ending phone conversations with "bye-bye," but I refuse to say "MY MOM" instead of "my mother."

I reserve "boob," "pee," "poo," "poop" and "tummy" for jokes or for conversations with kindergartners. I cringe when I hear a doctor say "tummy." What's wrong with "abdomen?"  (However, I do say "poop" and "pee-pee" to my dog.)

Southern speech is a topic for a possible future posting. For now I'll just say that I find it very difficult to take people seriously if they sound like they just climbed out of some "holler" in the deep south. My ears and brain shut down when someone says "poke" for "bag" or "done" for "did" or "Coke" for all brands of soda -- or TYPES "y'all" in emails.

I know a successful investment banker and publisher in New York, who grew up in Kentucky. When he was in junior high school, a teacher advised his class to study and emulate the TV network news broadcasters if they had hopes of becoming successful outside the South.

OTOH, northeast speech often pisses me off, such as the cliched "Pock yaw cah in Hahvid Yahd."

The beloved Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard recently died at age 99. He was known as "the voice of God" and was complimented for his expert elocution. Although he performed in a stadium in daBronx, he sounded like he was in Fenway "Pock" in Boston -- never pronouncing a final "R." Derek's last name should NOT be pronounced "Jee-tuh." The boss's last name was NOT "Steinbrenn-uh."
Not only do many New Englanduhs (and some New Yawkuhs) drop R's, sometimes an R gets put where it doesn't belong. My ninth-grade English teacher in N'Haven said, "Ameriker."

In Manhattan, you can meet someone at the intersection of "toity-toid and toid."

And back in daBronx (and in Brooklyn and Queens), you can hear "fill-im" for "film," "kern" for "coin" and "terlet" for "toilet."

A bit east of Brooklyn is Lawn Guyland, and if you travel west you'll reach New Joisey. If you go far west, you might hear former Governator Ah-nold say "Cally-fawn-yuh."

Pitcher Waite Hoyt played for the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers (among others) from 1918 through 1938. He was hit by a ball and injured in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A spectator yelled, "Hurt is hoyt!"

Bad grammar is another -- but related -- subject. Rachel Maddow (who should know better) said "less" instead of "fewer" twice in the same broadcast. BOO!

At some time I'll have to deal with "Feb-you-erry," "nook-you-ler," "terr-ist," the silent second "c" in "Connecticut," "the Macy's Day Parade" and "The Port of Authority."

I'm not perfect, of course. Cynical cousin Dave doesn't like the way I pronounce "Saturn" or "buffet," and I confess to twice mispronouncing "kiosk" and using the non-verb "prophesy" instead of "prophesize."

(dog peeing photo and Cain photos from Getty Images  Street sign from brickfeetimages. I thank them.)


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