The Ambiguous Shirking Syndrome

It started with like.

“I was like, watching this show, and this guy was trying to, like, jump on a trampoline, but it wasn’t a trampoline; it was, like, a stack of foam rubber cushions with whipped cream all over it and there were these other people standing around trying to, like, keeping him from falling, to keep him from. . .”

In the above example, we see that the incredible versatility of the the like filler-phoneme phenomenon has rendered that little word weary and wornout from overuse, and so a linguatic trainer was sent  in to give, like, a break; they sent in two second-stringers to replace him. Like was, like, the only filler word ever, who it took two other words to replace him–he was that famous–and so the trainer sent in you know. . .

“and these other people standing around are trying to, you know, trying to keep him from falling off the stack of foam rubber pads. They were supposed to keep his feet from touching the ground because if his feet touched the ground then he would be, you know, eliminated and they would vote him off the show or, you know, something like that. It was so funny–how he was trying to keep his feet up on the pads so his feet wouldn’t touch the ground. But some of the people that were supposed to help him started licking the whipped cream off of him just for, you know, a joke or something and so finally while this one weird guy was like getting into the whipped cream thing and he wasn’t paying attention and so the guy’s feet touched the ground and the facilitator blew the whistle and everything stopped and all  the people were laughing except for him because he was, you know, out of the game and he could never come back. It was sad in a way but it was, you know. . .”

Now the meteoric rise of another Celebrity utteral excloratory filler has, within our lifetime, added yet another star-quality persona to the filler-phoneme phenom:

“. . .kinda funny. It was sad in a way, but it was kinda funny.”

This slangified stripped-down contraction of the classic “kind of”  adjectivo-preppisitionative filler has really taken over. I mean, it went viral a couple years ago, gettin’ a thousand hits a minute because its like, you know, well who wants to go to all that trouble and say “kind of” when you can just blurt out kinda whatever you’re feeling at the time or whatever floats your boat, or maybe you can’t think of the right word because, well, you know. . .

whatever. That’s another one: whatever.  Absolute epitome of the ambiguous shirking syndrome. Perfect example of an ASS.

But I digress. . . You can call it whatever you want. Fuhgedaboudit. I mean, it’s all over the map with this stuff. But it IS, you know, a class thing. I mean . . . you won’t hear the elite saying it. No way Hozay. Their philler-phoneme of choice is:

sort of

This euphemistic philler-phoneme is a highly favored linguatic device among journalists and talking heads who don’t have all their ducks in row, which is to say, they, sort of don’t have all their facts.  Or else maybe they just don’t want to appear to, sort of make value judgements that aren’t politically correct or something like that. An example from a recent talking heads discussion could be:

“These extremists were posting their gruesome executions online and the videos would immediately go viral, and people didn’t know what to make of it because it was, like, unprecedented.  I  mean, nothing like this has ever happened before. People in the West were getting sort of freaked about it.”

They might even be worse than them fundamentalist right-to-lifers who are so OCD about preventing infanticide. Or maybe they’re like them wild-eyed IRA guys in Belfast back to their old tricks, or the new IRA guys who want to value of their IRAs and 401-Ks.

Actually, history is full of this kind of thing. It’s called the depravity of Man. The difference just now is that this video-promoted beheading practice–in all it’s full-blown barbarism–has gone viral online. And this development is . . . sort of, a bad sign of what may be coming. There could be, like, trouble or something.

Some of the talking heads were recently talking about this viral video beheading phenomenon, and the fatal terrorist shootups in Paris and San Bernadino, and wherever else this type of jihadic atrocity is about to happen. The journalists were trying to decide among themselves what the correct nomenclature would be, whether the shooters and head-choppers should be called terrorists, or political extremists or jihdists or. . .and these people all claim to be . . . sort of, Islamic, but that doesn’t, of course, make them Islamic terrorists. So you can see what the problem is here.

What to call them.  And our dedicated, professional infomatic journalistic commentators are addressing the problem. For more about this, tune into News at 11.

 In signing off from this edition of the Linguatic Report, I’ll leave you with our Definition of the Week. This week’s word is:

um

Um is a filler-phoneme word that sharpens and clarifies the classically hesitant, filler adverb, uh, which has for many decades been in common use. Found most frequently among academics and well-informed opinionators such as Noam Chomsky or Barak Obama, this very concise, procrastinative filler excloratory is solidly packed with a well-understood but unspoken message, the content of which is:

I’m not finished with my very weighty proclamation yet, so you other members of the panel and you students and so forth who are hanging on my every word please don’t interrupt me until I’m done speaking this important next word, which is, um. . . this never should have been what is has become.

Be that as it may, and that said. . .  that’s the history of the world for you. Never should have been what is has become. Nevertheless there it is . . . whatever you call it. If it was a snake, the damn would have bit you already. Ask Churchill or Eisenhower about it.

But they’re not answering the phone.

Smoke

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