More Bad Language

We’ve already done issue (as an asinine synonym of problem), raising awareness (rampant self regard combined with the belief of education as panacea), questions raised (a cheap journalistic trick). Today we add battling disease, rage, sustainable, and the icky thank you so much.

Battling disease Did you hear that So & So lost his battle with cancer? And that Miss You-Know-Who is currently battling “alcohol dependency”? And don’t forget Whatshisname still battles bravely against heart disease.

Enough with the military metaphors of disease! Illness is not pitched warfare. It is to speak loosely to say that the body has been “invaded” by a bacterium or virus, and even a dodge when the illness is largely or completely self-inflicted, as it is in the case of drunkenness, clogged arteries, and many cancers.

Overuse of this term is one more indication of decadence. To say one battles a disease expresses the feeling that whatever bad happens is not one’s fault—invasions are fault free, the disease is not of oneself—and that even preventable illness steals upon one’s body as a thief in the night. And let’s not forget the overtone that lost battles could have been won. That life could have continued indefinitely if only enough resources were marshalled.

Rage We have already lost outrage—which is now a synonym of vaguely irritated, temporarily inconvenienced, or mildly displeased—and if we don’t move quickly rage will suffer its own Samsonian haircut.

Evidence: We are asked to join the “US Day of Rage“, which is to consist of non-violent—non-violent!—protest, group meet-ups at Starbucks, and picnic lunches on the Mall. Rage indeed.

My progressive friends, join me in the battle against this disease, this diminution of the soul of this valuable word, lest the sting felt by atheists “raging against the dying of the light” will be forever lost!

Sustainable What is that exactly? “Yet all shall turn to dust” turned on its head? A repeal of the second law of thermodynamics? A mandate that life’s pleasures shall never abate?

Empirical evidence suggests the word is only used as an ethereal distraction, a mechanism to make you enter a state of pious Green Thought so that you fail to notice the gloved iron hand moving toward your pocket.

It’s also employed as an excuse for a hotel not to change your towel.

Thank you so much If you’re that happy with me for buying that bottle of water from you, get down on your knees and swear obeisance. Otherwise, a simple thanks will do.

If I wasn’t in such a festive mood, I could have easily come up with more. As it is, I am too happy to be grumpy. But I’m hoping that loyal readers are less sanguine and can suggest additions.


  1. Speed

    “Sustainable” is frequently paired with “architecture” to create “sustainable architecture” — a couplet that appears frequently (almost always?) in any description of proposed buildings and other physical structures. It is a largely meaningless marketing term like “New!” and “Improved!”

    Same with “sustainable development.”

    Antonym: Unsustainable. As in, “unsustainable levels of government spending.”

  2. GoneWithTheWind

    Some problems are indeed “self-inflicted”. But I think that number is less then what is commonly accepted. Clearly smokers risk lung cancer. But studies have shown that there is a genetic predisposition to get lung cancer. As we all know not all smokers get lung cancer. So I totally agree the smokers lung cancer is self-inflicted but the actual causes are somewhat more complex. Ditto for alcoholism. I am apparently immune from alcoholism as I have never enjoyed alcohol. I did the usual teen and post teen drinking but never liked alcohol and quit drinking altogether 45 years ago. I can drink if I want to but have no desire. I might add I have no desire to smoke and I certainly tried to. Is my disdain of alcohol and tobbaco genetic and another’s addiction also genetic?? For most of us, getting a serious disease like cancer, diabetes, etc. depends on genetics and not some concious choice in what we eat or don’t eat. The commonly held beliefs about food and how it contributes to our health is a hodge podge of old wives tales and intentional misinformation. Science means nothing to the person with a bias about food.

  3. Matt

    I don’t really agree with having “battle” in here as relates to disease. Depending on the disease, it can be pretty literal, as white blood cells destroy the invading microorganisms.

    Not to mention expelling various bodily fluids for the good of the body. Part of my treatment for pneumonia / pleurisy was to lay with my head below my chest, while my family beat on my back as I coughed. Sure felt like a battle to me. 🙂

    Sustainable is a horrible word. Right up there with it is how the word “liberal” has been tortured. And don’t even get me started on “progressive.”

  4. “Acidification” – a loaded word which actually means a process by which sea-water becomes less alkaline. “Incontrovertible proof” means “we think, on balance, we’ve right”. “Eco-friendly” – I’m not totally sure what this means, but I think it means that a product carries a green label, so “we” don’t feel quite so guilty when we buy/use/burn/dispose of/own it. I’m not including myself in that “we” of course.

  5. DAV


    But studies have shown that there is a genetic predisposition to get lung cancer. As we all know not all smokers get lung cancer. So I totally agree the smokers lung cancer is self-inflicted …

    Huh? If a lung cancer victim smokes the cancer is because of smoking but if a non-smoker gets it what then? Just bad luck? When did “possible cause” segue into “definite cause”?


    “thank you so much” Would you prefer “bitte schoen” which means roughly the same thing? I think there’s a difference between “thanks” and “thanks a lot”. Thinking though about the phrase “thank you so much” . That could mean a whole lot or not much at all. So I guess it’s really just “thanks” after all. Smoke and mirrors.

  6. The less we read as a society the more debased our language will become. LOL!

  7. Really? This is what troubles you? It’s hard to take you seriously after a post like this. Perhaps you would do better in France or Portugal or some other nation where they have Academies to protect the sanctity of their native languages. I know what people mean when they use the terms you listed.

    On the other hand, I deplore the verbification of our nouns.
    “The new way to office.”
    “This is how we will architect your IT infrastructure.”
    (For the clueless, yes, verbification was employed sarcastically.)

  8. Briggs


    Should I now take you less seriously since discovering you deplore “verbifications” of nouns? But, no: I am still happy.

  9. George Steiner

    Add the word “troubled”

  10. Matt

    I could care less about stupid language. No, really, A LOT less.

  11. @ Matt: If your family enjoyed administering your pulmonary therapy it counts as “abuse”. If they claim they didn’t, they are probably lying.

  12. Rich

    Rob Ryan: why’s he got to be serious all the time? A quotation I heard recently: “People don’t give up playing because they get old, they get old because they stop playing.”

    I’ve always taken “thank you so much” to be ironic rather than fulsome. No doubt this is one of our cultural differences like the American “I could care less” which means, logically, that you are not entirely indifferent and the English “I couldn’t care less” which means your indifference is the maximum possible.

  13. ramspace

    “Going forward” and “on a go-forward basis” are annoying; “as such” is usually used incorrectly, and I cannot readily think of any correct use of “very much so.”

  14. GoneWithTheWind

    Dav: It doesn’t seem very controversial to me. Science has indeed discovered that there is a genetic predispostition to get lung cancer from cigarettes. conversely there is a genetic predisposition to NOT get lung cancer from cigarettes. On the other hand we have known/believed for well over 50 years that cigarette smoking cause lung cancer so if you smoke and get lung cancer then your cancer is self inflicted. What part of all that caused you a problem?

  15. Nomen Nescio

    I am outraged by your comments on the use of the word outrage!
    Kindest Regards,
    Nomen Nescio

  16. Hasdrubal

    I don’t know, I sort of like the “battle” metaphor for diseases. Sure, it might imply that some battles which were lost could have been won. But at the same time, it reminds us that some victories are Pyrrhic, not worth the price we pay for them.

  17. John A

    “thank you so much”
    Is this actually in common use as a rote formula? I have seldom encountered it, and only when obviously meant as it reads, though I have been subjected to “thanks a lot” as its own antonymic/sarcastic phrase.

    I am a bit more bemused by other oddities, such as “it has two chances, fat and slim.” And of course the prefix “in-” exampled by incompetent but exempted for inflammable.

    Not that English is alone in strange but common phrases. What Parisian first thought “ma choue petite” (i.e. “my little cabbage”) was a fitting term of endearment?

  18. JH

    “People don’t give up playing because they get old, they get old because they stop playing.”

    I like this quote. Thank you so very berry merry much (just to annoy Mr. Briggs)! ^_^

  19. Rich


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *