Lil Bub. Awesome. Really?
Posted on October 14, 2012
Would you like to know about something that irks me more than these posters? AS IF IT WERE POSSIBLE?
It is and it’s the misuse of the word awesome – and it turns out that I’m not the only one who feels this way.
::cue flashback music::
On my way home from a visit with Lil Bub in Bloomington a few weeks ago – yes, THAT Lil Bub (more on that in The Indianapolis Star soon) – I caught the tail end of an NPR Fresh Air interview with author J.R. Moehringer. He had been discussing his latest novel Sutton as well as his experience ghost writing Andre Agassi’s memoir, Open.
As the interview was wrapping up, host Terry Gross mentioned Moehringer’s dislike for the word awesome and asked him to explain. His response struck a chord with me.
“Well, I think there’s a line in “Inherit the Wind” when Spencer Tracy says we have damn few enough words. And I feel that way. I mean, the richness of the English language is still limiting. I mean there aren’t enough words for all the wonderful emotions and experiences and yet everyone seemingly has agreed to use just one word for everything. Awesome. That’s now everything. I hear it 30 times a day and it just makes me feel like we’re all turning into zombies. And if people aren’t saying, awesome, they’re saying amazing.
So, as somebody, you know, who loves language and loves words, it’s a constant source of sadness to me that we’re winnowing the entire English language down to two words.
I remember a NASCAR driver caught on fire and they asked him what the experience was and he said awesome. And I remember President Bush was hosting the pope and the pope said a few words and Bush said awesome talk, pope. So I just feel – I don’t know. I’m trying not to be cranky as I get older, but the word awesome – it just seems like it’s overdue to be retired,” he said. (Read the full transcript here)
Amen to that, Mr. Moehringer. Amen. A fellow lover of words, it makes me sad that we’ve reduced the English language to this. Awesome is to inspire awe. While I suppose hosting the pope might have been awesome for Mr. Bush, we’re selling so many other experiences and things short by using the word where it’s just not appropriate. WE’RE BEING LAZY.
A day or so after hearing Moehringer’s interview, I caught this segment of the TODAY show - mostly because I wanted to see what Elmo had to say – about the use of the word really in a snarky fashion.
In his NY Times article, The ‘R’ Word: Really, Really Overused, writer Neil Genzlinger writes,
“You’ve heard it too, no doubt, and if you’re a person who values grace and urbanity and eating with utensils rather than burying your face in the plate, you’ve winced whenever some TV character has spewed it. It’s the snarky “Really?,” and it’s undoing 2,000 years’ worth of human progress.”
Can I get another “Amen?”
What ever happened to witty comebacks or thoughtful dialogue? Dialogue has reduced to sarcasm. Clichés. Cheap laughs. It’s nothing but linguistic laziness and I for one, am sick of it.