Anyone who has ever tried to read Shakespeare in the original English, must be aware that the language (any language) is always changing. Life in the Boomer Lane’s mother-in-law left Turkey decades ago and took all of her language with her. While she was absent from Turkish soil, the Turkish language wasn’t. For that reason, she referred to airplanes as “flying metal birds in the sky,” while the Turks had moved on to “airplane.” She also had no Turkish words for “computer,” “cell phone” or “double bacon cheeseburger.”
LBL is, of course, aware that English words and phrases are disappearing with the same rapidity as the brain cells in her head, and new ones are being born that reflect the rich culture being created by reality TV and street gangs. In addition, many words and phrases have survived but now have a totally different meaning. LBL will review a few of her favorites:
Literally is supposed to mean “literally.” It now mean “figuratively.” Although this phenomenon started many decades ago, LBL believes that only recently has the word “figuratively” finally given up the fight and slunk back to wherever it originally came from. In fact, she believes the word “figuratively” no longer exists in the English language. People are now free to say “The Uber arrived literally as I pulled my finger from the keypad,” “I have just watched literally 100 videos of cat antics on Facebook this morning,” and “There are literally thousands of people who have declared for the Republican Presidential nomination.”
Unique used to mean “unique,” as in one-of-a-kind. Literally. Now it means “different.” And because it has been driven from its place at the top of the pedestal, we are forced to use qualifiers. We say, “That dress Kim wore with the entire butt area exposed was really unique” or “That dress Kim wore with the entire breast area exposed was very unique.”
Let’s say that one was at a vegan, gluten-free, carb-free, nut-free, soy-free, wheat-free, sugar and salt-free dinner party, and the food was so tasty, one asked for seconds. This would be a unique situation. One problem is that, in a situation like this that is actually unique, even a qualifier may not be strong enough. In that case, one would want to say “literally unique,” but now that would be interpreted as “sort of different,” and would lose all meaning.
One of LBL’s issues (among literally hundreds) is the phrase “No problem,” which used to mean going beyond what would normally be expected, or solving a problematic situation. But, instead, this phrase has now replaced “You are welcome,” which is merely the polite response to “Thank you” and involves nothing problematic.
LBL tells wait staff in restaurants and sales clerks in stores “Thank you,” because she is being polite and acknowledging their expected good service (refilling her water-glass/handing her bag of newly-purchased mini-pads). She is not asking the waiter to get down on his hands and knees to retrieve her cell phone under the table, nor the sales clerk to accept payment for the mini-pads with a bag of uncounted pennies. Neither is she requiring anyone to put themselves in harm’s way (unless her grandsons are at the table and the waiter has to wade through a lot of tossed food in order to find the cell phone). But instead of hearing “You are welcome” in reply, she hears “No problem.” She isn’t aware that serving her could possibly be a problem (because isn’t that their role in this relationship?), and she frets about this for several minutes after.
What does all this mean for you, the reader, who has set aside any number of productive, intelligent choices for how you could have spent the last five minutes of your life, instead of having read this post? Not much. You are now finished and can go back to monitoring your social media updates, tracking your bids on eBay, and getting all the details of the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Garner split. Of course, if you are employed, you won’t have time to do any of this, because your time will be spent sending emails to friends about your rotten, unappreciative boss, who is literally unique in his (or her) stupidity. At any rate, there’s no need to thank LBL for this post. It was no problem.