Take Five: Thinking about, like, words

Seriously, folks, we need to take a look at word power. So much is fast communication today, so let’s simplify where we can and examine what we are truly saying.

Once in a long-ago classroom, an English teacher admonished her class with this statement: “Class, we need to discuss your usage of words. One is swell, the other is lousy.” A sigh passed through the room as one student raised his hand and said, “Yes, Mrs. Jenkins, but what are the words?”

Take the words “like,” and “kinda.” You know, like, I might do that, but I kinda don’t want to. These have become idioms in every conversation. “To go” has replaced “to say,” as in “He goes…” describing a conversation.

Perhaps these new phrases came out of the sports world in those wonderful 10-second TV sound bites. For example:

1. “Well, he was throwing me fast balls like the first two times I was at the plate. I kinda was hoping for a better pitch. Then the third at bat, I kinda knew what I was going to see, like, I was kinda waitin’ on him — and BAM — outta here."

2. “Me and my caddie, Jimbo Bones, like, we enjoy playing here at Twinkle Toes Golf Resort but that fourth hole is a toughie. Jimbo, like, tells me, ‘Hey, the green breaks toward Indio.’ I go, ’I didn’t know that already?’”

3. “So, I go, ’You’re wrong, Ref. I never stepped out of bounds.’ He goes, ’Yeah, I saw youse go out.’ I sorta blew up. I go, ’Ref, you must be really hot out here.’ So, then I go, ’Here’s some help.’ I took off my helmet and began fanning air in the guy’s face. He t’rows me outta da game."

Speaking of definite articles — I’m beginning to hear the word “da” used in everyday conversation.

I didn’t write “duh.” Although this word, if it is a word, is now firmly entrenched in our language. Like I used to bring it in occasionally, but now as a writer, I kinda need to employ high-level words.

Nevertheless, “da face” does mean “the face.” It doesn’t mean “deface,” like marking up and ruining an object so that it can’t be used anymore.

Continuing the translations afforded us by the current lingo, “He burned me with that layup” doesn’t mean the player was set on fire. “He cooked the books” has far worse implications than boiling a pot of tomes on your stove.

Can a guy named Stu really stew about the stew he cooked while in a stupor?

I don’t know where our everyday idioms will take us. But can we be surprised at using words such as “kinda” and “like” when mastering English? By the way, “tough” is pronounced as if it was spelled “tuff”, and not “too” as in through, and although all of the words (including although) end in “ough,” each has a different pronunciation.

Imagine what this is doing to my spellcheck system.

Try out this sentence: “His bandage was wound around the wound.”

Or this: There is no time like the present to present this present.” Say what?

Perhaps using kinda and sorta is refreshing, like kinda releasing some of the day’s tension.

But I kinda, sorta know where this column is going. “Like”, I want you to “Take Five” and smile. I go to all of you — have a good day.

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com or phone (818) 790-1990.

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