Post # 428    CALIBRATING MIMESIS 2 (speech) 

In the preceding writing, [the first, of an intended series of three posts], we offered certain, personally, considered observations, concerning dress within the contextual interface, between style and conformity, (mimesis), and individual nuance and choice. The application of the concept of “mimesis” (again, imitation), in the present mini-essay, relates to a discernable trend, toward populist jargon, for better or, (as usually, the case) for worse. We have the intention, hereafter, to publish, a third, “MIMESIS” post, on independently generated opinion, versus the social compulsion of “groupthink.”

We are acutely aware that the phenomenon of language, is a constantly changing one, that the English-American lexicon has significantly evolved since the age of the classic OED (“Oxford English Dictionary”), and continues to evolve, with the passage of time and its relevant, contemporary usage. Additionally, we acknowledge, that new additions to any lexicon are, at the time of their introduction, considered exotic and unacceptable, until they are, if ever, officially sanctioned as acceptable. The present note, however, does not concern itself with newly evolving vocabulary, but, rather, with the subject of words which have been universally accepted, but are contemporaneously, being misused, in an apparent desire, we surmise, to seem au courant.

A respectable inventory of such misused words, being too numerous to responsibly recount, we have selected illustrative examples, which we felt to be the most egregious. For purposes of attempted clarity, we have divided the subject into its two practical categories: (1) Wrongful misapplication of nouns, as verbs, which modest sample, is felt sufficient, to illustrate the basic dynamics of the flawed practice, of fracturing grammar, and, (2) Selected, “populist” words, we find to be particularly objectionable, together with our justification, respectively, for such views:

  • One is not required to be a purist, to concede, that the rules concerning the structure of sentences, have as their vital purpose, the effective use of the language, to accurately, and unambiguously, convey a speaker’s or writer’s intended meaning. It is, foundational, to observe, that the subject of a sentence is the “noun” or the “pronoun”, the indicated action, is known as the “verb,” the description of the subject of the sentence, requires the use of “adjectives,” and the quality or nature of the verb (the action) requires the use of words, designated as “adverbs.” These traditional, grammatical rules of the road, are so fundamental, as in their recitation, to run the predictable risk, of an accusation of pedantry, or sarcasm.

To commit error, amounting to inadvertent, non- adherence, to this universally accepted, conception and structure, is to run the predictable risk, of being misunderstood. By bright contrast, to intentionally, and irresponsibly, violate these fundamental rules, for the purpose of imitation (mimesis) of some current, aberrant fad, is no less than reprehensible.

An illustrative sample, of such grammatical, mimetic, aberrations is, as follows:

The misuse of the dramatic noun, “impact,” as a verb, viz.,” The rain impacts our plans for a picnic.” Impact is a noun, not a verb. The noun “lunch” is at times used as part of a dual verb, viz., “Let’s do lunch.” The noun “parent,” is wrongfully used as a verb, unfortunately, by well- educated people, viz., “she does not know how to parent.” Identical grammatical abuse is observed, in such pervasive use of nouns as verbs, in words like, vacation, television and picnic.

Some other risible, but, objectionable, grammatical exemplars, are: “He doesn’t do soup,” or, I’m not into dogs, hip-hop, or, “I’m not into peanut butter.”

  • There is, a veritable, lexicon, of imitatively, flawed expressions, to consider, however, we find the following illustrative examples, particularly objectionable:

[“AWESOME],” currently used to designate high quality, or satisfaction, as in the phrases, “The pizza was awesome” or, “the band was awesome.” The word “awesome” is an adjective expressing a quality that is sensational, majestic or awe-inspiring. It may be, that the deafening and immense, roar of Niagara Falls, the Moon landing and, for believers, the Deity, are all awesome; but, never, ever, pizza, French fries or a jazz band. For reasons of fashion, (mimesis) superlative words like, “awesome,” “tremendous,” “great,” or, “fabulous,” are imitatively applied to mundane subjects. This popular misuse, severely handicaps the expressive utility of vocabulary, since, when properly employed, such intended, powerful words have previously been thus diluted in meaning, and thereby, rendered, less impressive.

[“PERFECT],” to designate assent. The word “perfect,” is, in reality, the ultimate designation of flawless quality. The positive response to the suggestion, I’ll meet you at the store, at 5 P.M., properly, should not be, “Perfect.” How about, Yes? or, “OK.

[“WHAT’S UP”] or, just, [“S’ UP”] are confusing, but nevertheless, frequently used substitutes, for a greeting or a normal telephone response in lieu of, “Hello.” In reality, they are questions, which require a response.

[“SO”] The word, “so,” properly has an explanatory, or emphatic function, as in, “I was sleepy, so I went to bed early.” or, “The coffee was so hot, it was undrinkable”. Why has the word, “so” been eternally used, and frequently imitated, to precede responses to questions? At a minimum, it is annoying and distracting; at worst it is confusing.

[“LATER”] This is another, imitative travesty, and frequently used as an attempted, fashionable, or “cool,” substitute for “goodbye,” or, “see you later.” It is a useful word when used, as intended, as a designation of time, or order of appearance.

[“LIKE”] This word, properly communicates a simile, but, is very often used by the young, to precede a recital of events, the quotation of another person’s statement, or, the recitation of one’s emotional feeling. It seems, at least in such instances, to have become a regularly availed of predicate, to statements, in the similar (“like”) and bizarre way, that “so” has become an introductory word, to statements of response. In the case of “like,” it is our theory that has emotional utility, in making a statement of fact or, of intimate feelings, defensively, less emotional, less serious, or “cooler”.

[“WHATEVER”] We have, tactically, reserved, what we consider this singularly, atrocious perversion, of a useful vocabulary word, for the last, of our “hit parade”. “Whatever,” is understandably, known and used in a sentence, as a word of express consent, to another, to make a desired choice, regarding a theory, an action, or use. Our objection, especially, is to the practice of using the word, “whatever,” as a single word response. Such use, has become a mimesis of disagreeably crude remarks, of dismissal, disinterest, inattention or a non- verbalized, “go away.”  Assuming, for example, that one underwent a thorough medical examination, at a leading medical center, resulting in the diagnosis of X, and thereafter makes an anxious inquiry, of his personal physician, as to why, for years, he has been treated instead, for Y, and received the response, “whatever”, one would see the word’s true extent of obnoxiousness. Using the subject word, twice in a row, (“whatever, whatever”), in response to a statement or question, unmistakably, but crudely means, “go away.” We have made it a prudent practice, if possible, not to engage in conversation with individuals, who regularly, (and unsociably), make such use of this word.

As a current update, to the above, we would add a few of the latest, unclassified, objectionable expressions, recently heard and popularly imitated, in the context of language injury: “That was the reveal,” “What is the ask?” “What is the solve?” “What is the take away?” and, one, which has already, earned the status of a classic inquiry, as to outcome, “What’s the bottom line?” as if all subjects discussed, were, in reality, profit and loss statements.

For some mysterious and unfortunate reason, it universally appears that, once the ignorant or careless, use of any sort of objectionable words or phrases, is broadcast, people, at once, faithfully commence their ardent homage to that duplicative Deity, known as the God of “Mimesis.”

-p.

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plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

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