Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Word is Absurd

Normally when I write about language, about words and phrases, it's to rant about the ones that I think are polluting the English language.

Today will be a bit different. There are a couple of expressions I've heard people using more and more lately that I get a kick out of.

The first is "throwing (name) under the bus", meaning to push blame onto someone else and let them take the blame. It refers to making a scapegoat out of someone, sometimes shifting the blame off oneself. It also means not sticking up for or trying to help someone who has done something wrong. Someone thrown under the bus is a sacrificial lamb.

I don't know why I find this expression so amusing, but I can't help but laugh whenever I hear it.

The second is "trainwreck", to mean something that turns out to be a total disaster. I recently heard someone say that they thought the 7th Harry Potter movie would be a real "trainwreck", because they thought that no one will be able to do justice to the book.

For me, getting married years ago was a real trainwreck. You get the idea.

But I can't end this entry without a couple of language rants. It just wouldn't be right.

The other night while listening to the radio I heard a badly made-up word that made me cringe.

"Impactful". The person who uttered this abomination meant "Influential". "Impact" used when "affect" or "influence" is called for is bad enough, but to embellish it into a non-word makes me grind my teeth.

Also on the radio, I heard someone say "canceller" when they meant "counselor": "You can arrange to see a "canceller"....".

No thanks. I think I'll counsel people not to see the canceller and cancel seeing the counselor.


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