Celia Rivenbark: Meet ‘Ms. Language Person’
04/19/2014 12:00 AM
04/15/2014 4:36 PM
A much older humor columnist named Dave Barry used to write as Mr. Language Person, or some such, when addressing the woeful state of the English language in a semi-comical way. OK, actually in a hysterically funny way, but, well, I’m a small, petty person and Mr. Barry is very rich and famous and won a Pulitzer Prize for humor which, trust me, is about as likely an event as the Koch Brothers deciding to invest all their billions in inner-city arts programs for transgendered youth.
’Nother words, it just doesn’t happen.
That said, I’ve decided to debut my own Ms. Language Person to air a few grievances, that’s right, Festivus style, about words and phrases that need to go bye-bye.• “No problem!”
I’ve written about this before but it has been a while and, shockingly, none of you were paying attention. So.
Let’s try this again. If you wait tables, please do not respond to my request for “ketchup,” “steak sauce” or “a water glass without someone else’s lipstick stuck to it,” with “No problem.” The problem with “no problem” is that it implies that I have inconvenienced you in some way, that I have distracted you from your need to check your tweets for the 20th time this hour or whatever. It’s not just restaurants, it’s in every store and it is always uttered by a smiling millennial. Stop it.
Of course it’s not a problem. It’s your JOB. Don’t make me pull over this humor column.• “Consciously uncoupling.”
Oh, yeah, baby. You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? I don’t expect Gwyneth Paltrow, the world’s oldest waif, to honestly start a trend with this pretentious claptrap but, just in case, let’s just nip it, nip it in the bud. You’re busted up, Gwynnie. Your divorce isn’t special enough to need its own language. In the United States, a couple gets divorced every 13 seconds. Calling your split something besides divorce just makes me want to force-feed you plate after plate of Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni until you’re normal. This could take a while.
(As an aside, since we’re talking about celebs, let’s also get rid of “pedirazzi.” This is a derisive term used by celebrities who don’t want photographers taking pictures of their children when they are on family outings and such. They demand that their children never be photographed because it is scary and intimidating. Hogwash. If you want to protect your kids, move out of Hollywood. Nobody saw Meryl Streep’s kids until they were, like, 65 years old.)• “Anyways:”
Now Ms. Language Person (that’s me, remember?) will stipulate that this train has left the station and we may never be able to get the genie back in the bottle and a few thousand other cliches, but can we try? I’m not sure where this started, but it needs to stop. The word is, has been, and ever more shall be, “anyway.” Not plural. Thank you and you’re welcome.
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