What’s your current verbal tic? You know, that word or phrase you’d adopted at first with intent, which then takes over to a point you don’t even recognize you’ve said it twelve times in two minutes?
My freshman drops whatnot into every third sentence or so. My husband is a yada-yada-yada guy. My baby points out “there thing” meaning, there is the dog, or questions “where thing?” to open most conversations these days. It matters not if the dog is actually present or even remotely relevant to our verbal exchange, it’s just what he says. I can’t identify mine at the moment. I’m sitting in a room all by myself, conversing with no one, and I’m totally tabula rasa about my current lexical frequent flyers. In all honesty, and to my embarrassment just a touch, I’m overusing the word dick to refer to, well, to dicks and their shady behavior. I asked my husband, and he says my verbal tic is busting out into song. *Except it’s not technically a tic if I belt out a situationally-appropriate lyric every time, is it?*
I wish I could recall who, but I remember hearing a post-game locker room interview with a football player who said, “you know what I’m sayin'” so often, his message was devoid of content because, turns out, nouns and verbs carry meaning. No, dude, I don’t know what you’re sayin’ because you’re not actually sayin’ anything, know what I’m sayin’?
When even I can identify what my tic is, I make a concerted, conscious attempt to diminish its use.
Lake Superior State University generates a list of words deemed in need of banishment at the end of each annum. This is SO me. LSSU doesn’t consult with me though, and I’m just salty enough to have developed my own list.
What say you? For my liking, these nouns and verbs have run their course. Their time is done. Please go away. May I hold the door for you? Get out!
Curated: If online clothing vendors are to be believed, they offer carefully curated wardrobe pieces for their customers. Music streaming services curate a playlist just for you. Stop it. You know who curates? Professionals who select and acquire items for display in museums or galleries. Using it to sell services and goods feels like being sold a bill of goods.
Style: It’s OK in every context except when your online clothing retailer emails you announcing “You’ve been styled.” Nah. You’re sending me some overpriced clothes you hope I’m too lazy to return and will like just enough to pay the invoice.
Unpack: Popular in edu-speak these days, we unpack educational standards. No. What we do is discuss them. You know what gets unpacked at my house? The groceries. My suitcase after a weekend away.
Deep Dive: If unpacking is overused in edu-speak these days, the ubiquity of deep dive cannot be overstated; let’s take a deep dive into our data. How about we discuss our data thoroughly? The only place I’m taking a deep dive is the ocean.
Optics: Fancy, shmancy word spin doctors and talking heads use to describe how an event or happening appears.
Guesstimate: THIS IS NOT A WORD
Listicle: Also not a word, but a portmanteau, combining list and article. Social media pushes clickbait listicles like Top 5 Reasons Your Man Is Looking at Your BFF! Top 10 Things You Should NEVER Eat! 20 Things You Never Knew About Friends! Apparently listicles only work for me in multiples of five.
Conversate: ALSO NOT A WORD. You converse. You say conversate to try to make yourself sound smart, when in reality, smart people laugh at your use of conversate.
Orientate: Related to conversate, and PS–my head just exploded. Orientation is the process of being introduced, getting an overview. I orient (a verb roughly meaning give direction) new SLPs all the time, but no one’s ever been orientated.
Onboarding: It means training, or perhaps an extended period of training for newly hired employees. Onboarding sounds fancier is all. I recently served on a university communication sciences advisory committee. One of the group members asked me what our district’s onboarding costs were per new hire. I’m pretty sure she thinks I dawdle in the land of simpletons, flitting through life, so vacant was my face in response.
Tremendous: Tremendous coulda hung around forever had a certain high ranking government official not adopted its use in his insufferable, self-aggrandizing way.
Very: See tremendous above. Very works better verbally than in print, in my opinion, because when combined with facial expression and body language, you feel my “very” to the very bottom of your toes.
Leverage: Isn’t leverage a physics term? I probably should know that, except for my one and only physics class left me in a daily puddle of tears. The nightmare of that course became my dream come true mid-senior year after my teacher asked my mother, “She already got into college, didn’t she?” suggesting it was time I drop the class. Leverage is in heavy rotation these days to describe the manner in which things get used. Business types leverage their relationships with clients to gain funding or favors. Leverage feels like a synonym for exploit.
Transparency: Means not to hide, to disclose fully. Citizens demand transparency of this government agency or that political campaign. Any CEO or candidate for office swears transparency in their business dealings. Formerly known as honesty, see also integrity.
Stakeholder: Parents, you are valuable stakeholders in your child’s education! We are seeking input from all stakeholders as we move forward with the city budget! Blah, blah, blah.
Polar Vortex: I actually like this one, because science. But I am sooooo over winter, y’all. It snowed twenty hours straight yesterday, and we are making up six school cancellation days. I’m just pouting. Mother Nature, you and I need to sit down for a little girl talk. Pull up your big girl panties, lady, and let’s move on from this tantrum you can’t seem to shake here.