Sometimes people use words or phrases that puzzle me or strike me as odd. For instance, in church — and I’ve recently heard it elsewhere too — I hear the leader ask the assembly to “please rise to your feet.” Uh, what else would you rise to? Your knees? Your knuckles? What ever happened to “Will the congregation please stand”? Of course when you rise you’ll be on your feet! And just last Sunday he talked about “the world we live in.” Uh, are there other worlds I don’t know about? Worlds that other people to live in? I remember an old hymn that spoke of “worlds without end …” and maybe that’s it. So the world we live in distinguishes it from all those other worlds out there, right?
Here’s another one: “free gift.” We ladies are familiar with that. If you buy a certain amount of Estee Lauder cosmetics, you receive a “free gift.” Is a gift not free by definition? If you have to pay for it, it’s not a gift, right? It’s a gift only if it’s free. Of course, they call it “gift with purchase,” so in a way you really are paying for it, but why not just say, “Free!” Or “Gift!”
And how about “24/7” and most recently I’ve seen “24/7/365.” Whatever happened to “around the clock”? I actually did figure this out — it’ because clocks are now digital and are not the old fashioned ones with hands that inch from number to number. And they aren’t necessarily round, either. And if clocks aren’t round anymore, driving a car with your hands at “10 to 2” is meaningless. So we’re stuck with 24/7 and kids who don’t know how to tell time. When I was learning to fly a plane, the instructor might say something like, “traffic at 3 o’clock,” or “check your six.” If you aren’t used to a conventional clock, you’d be lost. And in that case, you could be really, really lost!
Then there’s “new and improved.” I don’t see how something can be new and improved at the same time. It can be a new product, or it can be an established product which has been improved. Or, I suppose, it could be an old product which has been newly improved (because they didn’t get it right the first time around, or the second, or …). They just keep “improving” it and hope one of these days it’ll actually work.
How about “each and every”? Um, everyone gets a free gift. Each of you will get a free gift. I can’t tell the difference. Is it overkill? Or am I missing something?
And, okay, this isn’t a phrase that’s appeared — it’s an object that has disappeared. The phone book! How would Sue Grafton’s heroine Kinsey Milhone manage without a phone book? One of the first things she would do when she was tracing someone was to look in the phone book. In fact, in a lot of the mysteries the detective makes use of the phone book. A computer is just not the same. Remember Thanksgiving when you were a kid? Too short to reach the table so what happened? You would sit on a phone book and voila! perfect! I mean, the kids can’t sit on a computer to make them tall enough to reach the table. Phone books were good for a lot of things besides looking up numbers. If you wanted to press flowers, the phone book was heavy enough and thick enough to make that happen. Also, if you had a picture or document that had curled at the edges, you could put a big old phone book (preferably the Yellow Pages) on each corner and in a couple of days it would be flat as a pancake. Oh, and a strong man could prove his strength by ripping one in half. I’ve never actually seen it done, and now I probably never will.
Okay, the fact is, I’m old-fashioned. I’m living in a brave new world and every day is an adventure. Take Emojis, for instance. I thought that little guy was giving two thumbs up — turns out he was blowing off steam. Not the same thing at all. And all those little abbreviations (abbreves, I mean) like LOL. I texted a friend who had just suffered a loss. I told her how sorry I was and ended with LOL: “Lots of Love” right? Wrong!
So I’m giving up on emojis and abreves and generally retreating to the language I know and understand. I mean, I could study each and every emoji 24/7 and still end up saying something stupid that would have you ROTFL. (Did I get it right?).