Letter: The English language and symbolism

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 30, 2016


Isn’t it strange how the meaning of many English words has changed over the years?

In the early part of the 20th century, the word gay meant a state of happiness and a carefree feeling.

Swell was another word that was used to describe a positive reaction to an event: we had a swell time at the party.

Then the word hip came into being. If you don’t know what’s going on in the world, then you are not hip.

When cellphones became available to the masses, the cellphone was described as being a cool product.

Next came right? He went down to the mall, right? Then he bought some books to read, right?

How does the listener know if what the speaker is saying is correct? And why is it so necessary to ask this question repeatedly during the narrative?

Two more of these obnoxious, meaningless fill in words are “know whatta mean?” and “know what I’m sayin’?”

The next time you hear a speaker or commentator on TV listen to how many ahs are spoken between sentences.

Many of these public speakers need to join a Toastmaster International club where they will learn how to speak without uttering the word, ah. Because each time you say ah, one of the members of the club is assigned to count your ahs and you are fined a penny.

I have noticed nonverbal hand motions used to describe quotations and cellphone use. Using the first two fingers of both hands, bend them into claws, raise your arms shoulder high and wiggle your fingers up and down to denote the use of a quotation.

Extend your thumb and your pinkie, leaving the rest of your digits resting against your palm. This sign is supposed to show that the speaker is using a cellphone.

And finally, the expression that everyone is using today is the unnecessary, “Having said that.”

Listen to today’s commentators and you will eventually hear this statement, and if you don’t understand the meaning you are not hip, you are not with it, you are not in and you certainly are not cool!

Bill Neil