Speech Peculiarities That Make My Teeth Itch
For example, when I walk down Philadelphia’s raffish South Street, that’s crawling with teenagers who smoke cigarettes and loudly use the word “like”—like it might go out of style as they like yammer to each other or like into a like cellphone—I want to slash my wrists.
Other words and phrases I wish people would avoid:
Newt Gingrich is one of the most fascinating men in Washington. Yet when referencing this nation, he talks about “Amurka” and “Amurkin”—a pronunciation that momentarily transforms him from an articulate, political philosopher and historian into a red-necked, Georgia hayseed. Saying “Amurkin” requires a sour pout, a downturn of the mouth. Franklin D. Roosevelt said “Amerrykin”—with the accent on “merry”—and it always came out with a happy smile. It was Roosevelt’s infectious optimism that got us through the Depression and World War II. Incidentally, Gingrich might be persuaded to change his pronunciation if he knew that the Wiktionary definition of a “merkin” (pronounced “mûrkn”) is a “17th century term for a pubic wig, worn for nude stage appearances by women after shaving their privates to eliminate lice.”
* as it were/* if you will/* per se
Fillers and useless.
* as we speak
The Grand Canyon is awesome. Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon was awesome. A chocolate dessert is not awesome.
The Brits use this the way Americans use “awesome!”
* chum/* dude/* pal
Gratuitous appellations used with an implicit sneer.
* I mean
* ya know
* kind of/* sort of
I watched a C-SPAN program as Michele Goldberg, the author of “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” addressed some learned group. She was brilliant, articulate, young and very attractive. She fielded questions with the aplomb of a Gold Glove second baseman. Except that she incessantly used “ya know” and “kind of.” Not a sentence went by without one or the other—or both—of these dumb phrases to the point where I ended up having no idea what she talked about because I was so mesmerized by her bizarre speech patterns.