Very, Exceedingly, Exceptionally Unique
Now, I’m not the world’s leading grammarian, and I’ve been known to mal a few apropisms myself. But the proper usage of some key words must have been beaten into my brain at very impressionable times, because every time I hear them misused, my blood pressure rises. Unfortunately it seems every few years, like an eclipse or volcanic eruption, the words I most hate to see used incorrectly also happen to be the ones most publicly mangled.
A decade or so ago, “hopefully” was the one that drove me to the hypertensives. HOPEFULLY DOES NOT MEAN “I HOPE!” Actually, I guess it does, now, as it’s been misused into common usage. So I’m getting past it, but NOOOOOO! Enter, stage left: “very unique.”
You know, right, that nothing can be “very unique?” That something is either “unique,” which means “one of a kind,” or it isn’t. For another year or so; that is, then the meaning of that word will be erased.
“Very unique” is everywhere. And each time I hear it, my stomach clenches and all sorts of antisocial thoughts about the dumbing down of America cross my cynical brain. I leap instantly to the American educational system, to my own kids (better get them to read more, quick!), to my own life–am I watching too much reality TV?Voices, dances, appetizers, flea market finds, crafts and million-dollar rooms. Everything is “very unique.”
Language and Laws
I know the English language, like* all languages, is fluid and changing. I just* can’t help* equating the misuse of certain words with the downfall of the culture as a whole. I think about our recent election, where words had no meaning and doublespeak remained the norm.
Is it too big of a leap to believe if we’re more vigilant about the meanings of most words in our daily lives, our society might demand more honesty and accountability in the words and deeds of our leaders?
We live, after all, in unique times. I hope we will be more attentive to the words we use to describe them.
*Yes, I’m a hypocrite in my own use of colloquialisms. “Very unique” still bugs me.
**Thanks to http://barnraisersllc.com/ for the cool drawing.