Are you familiar with fad-speak? Sure you are. Or do I have to give you a wake-up call? Or tell you it’s time to smell the roses? Or maybe that you need a reality check. Because if we’re on the same page, then you should be having fun yet. Unless you’re having a midlife crisis. Or if that’s on the back burner, then maybe a senior moment?
Have you ever wondered about the source of these phrases? Probably not, because you have more important things to think about. But having too much time on my hands, and not wanting to deal with more essential matters, like what to make for dinner, I confess to wasting precious minutes pondering the origins of these memes.
Sometimes the genesis is obvious, like yada yada yada, which was hatched on a Seinfeld episode. But eventually, even George erupted with annoyance at the overuse of the phrase, crying “Enough! No more yada yadas!”
I feel his pain. Which is why, of late, I am once again spewing anger at the television screen. “Stop saying that,” I rant at the news media, fake or otherwise. And I’m not reacting to reports about the latest public figure who allegedly succumbed to the lure of vodka and blinis with caviar. What’s riling me is the excessive usage of the latest cliche-ridden commentary. When, oh when, will they stop saying there is no there there? Hopefully, sometime before I throw a heavy object at the screen.
Think I’m having a George Costanza moment? You’re right. I am. But please take the next 30 seconds and click on the link below, and see if you don’t agree.
Funny, yes. But clearly, it’s time to move on. So please cease and desist, you clever political news analysts. You can do better than that. You no longer sound hip, cool or trendy. You sound like maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night and can’t come up with an original thing to say.
But despite my irritation, curiosity got the better of me. Deciding we should go out for dinner, I focused my energy instead on uncovering the origin of the “there there” trend. I discovered that the expression sprang from none other than Gertrude Stein. This should be no great surprise, coming from a woman who also declared that “a rose is a rose is a rose.” This has been interpreted to mean “things are what they are.” Which of course gave birth to “it is what it is.” But that’s a rant for another day.
According to Professor Google, Ms. Stein wrote about wanting to revisit her childhood home, but when she went there, there was no “there” there, because the home had been torn down.
I realize she must have been terribly disappointed, but for the sake of the future of the English language, couldn’t she have been just a little more literal?
Expressions do have a way of catching on. They start out innocently enough, like a line from a movie, or a TV show, even a politician. Suddenly everyone’s speech is peppered with “Make my day,” “I’ll be back,” or “Read my lips.” They become part of the pop culture scene, which is rapidly-changing, then move on, only to be replaced by something new.
Fad-speak in casual conversation is fine, and probably unavoidable. But when it comes to professional writing or broadcasting, I say drop the cliche or the latest catch phrase. I expect more from a serious journalist than the need to be cool.
And as long as we’re on the subject, Wolf Blitzer, not everything you report is “breaking news.” You’ll have to get up much earlier in the morning because I’ve been hearing about Jared Kushner since 7:00 AM. Breaking news, by definition, should not be hours old. By then, it’s already been broken. Like a glass at a Jewish wedding.
So TV News Media, these are serious times. Can you try to be a bit more precise in your delivery? This is a hot-button issue. You’re on the air 24/7. So please don’t go there. Stop using the same old same old. You’ve been there, done that. This isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. Think outside the box. In other words, get a life. Or in this case, a vocabulary.
Can you do that? I know that old habits die hard, and covfefe is oh so tempting, but I am cautiously optimistic.