When I was a diplomat and spent years living abroad, I experienced change in my own country every time I returned for a visit. I even started making lists of new things that I experienced, whether it be new technology, styles or language. The sense of change was very discrete as these new things kind of hit me in the face like bug on the windshield.
Since I have lived now continuously in the States for over twenty years, I do not have this same sense of change, but I have never stopped being highly sensitive to the use of new language and words. I wish I would think of language innovation as a positive change, but, on the contrary, I find myself being annoyed by the use of new language words, phrases and modalities. I suppose it would be better to just roll with the punches as new language comes out of the population of English speakers, and I hope it does not just betray me as an old fogey. But I actually find reasons for my rejection of these changes. Remember, I am not just talking about picking up the occasional use of these new language elements, but about usage that appears to be increasingly common. One I noted in a previous blog is the unexplained use of the word "so" before an answer to a verbal question. In another post, I took on those who call all people "folks." Let me give you my list of them.
Myself - Every day I heard the word "myself" used as a substitute for me or I. When I studied English with my high school English teacher, Mr. Claude Stephenson, I think I learned that myself is a reflexive noun, e.g. "I hurt myself." But no, a lot lot of people loosely say things like "Please send that form to myself." Or "Myself and John will be traveling next Friday." Since I work with a lot of military people, I at first thought this was typical of the mangled language that often passes for English among that profession. But no, I started hearing it all over the place, even on the BBC. I do not think I can accept "myself" being used in this way. I often try to understand what underlying reasons might be causing such usage. In the case of "myself," it seems to be a combination of both trying to sound--incorrectly--more formal (not being monosyllabic) and also trying to take the focus off of me, I seemingly self-centered pronouns.
Going Forward - We used to just say, "in the future" (or "in future" in the UK) or more commonly "from here on," but now everybody uses the term "going forward" to refer to what we will be doing from this point forward, normally referring to a plan to do it. There is nothing really wrong with this term, but it is still annoying. It seems to imply a distinct difference between the past and future, which in reality does not exist, and a control over the future which in most cases is hard to achieve.
Take-aways - After giving a longish explanation of something--sometimes a briefing--the speaker likes to say, "OK, the key take aways are X, Y and Z." Or it can be the assessment of someone else's statement. What annoys me abut this phrase, is how it reflects the kind of society in which we live, in which we always have to boil things down into the simplest statement. This is sometimes reflected in such usages as BLUF (Bottom line up front) or bullets instead of sentences to explain concepts. This reflects really the insidious influence that PowerPoint has had on our thinking processes. It is the victory of visualization over intellect.
Good to go - I started hearing this phrase around the military (and looked it up to learn it is originally a military phrase meaning readiness, especially in front line units), but it has clearly spread throughout the society. I actually use it myself, but only for fun, to mock those who use it thoughtlessly. Again, what I object to in this phrase is the thought that certain people think they are always good to go --mostly just thinking positively about everything--when I know from personal experience that usually there is something that is not really ready for us to move forward. I'm just not that optimistic and don't like people who are.
It's all good - A more recent phrase that is going viral right now. Just like good to go, I don't like thinking that everything is really good. There has got to be something that isn't good. This level of positive thinking is not for me.
These words and phrases are not neologisms, because they have already caught on broadly throughout American and English speaking society. What I find surprising, however, is how people use them non-self consciously. In fact, sometimes you get the impression that they are using them to affirm their place in today's society. This points the way therefore to the clear fact that the adoption of all these phrases so fast and widely is the role of young people. Youth, if they are not creating language are definitely eager to disseminate it.
So, there you go, the complaints of a crotchety, usually annoyed and bothered old guy, who probably just objects to change and finds it tiresome to try to keep up. I'm not the only one. I asked my 93 year old mother if she knew what a blog is. Of course, she didn't. Whatever!