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By Mary Kay O'Grady


I walked into the wonderful Apple service store on Lake and Oak Park. The fellow at the counter yelled out "What's going on?" Startled, I thought maybe I looked disheveled or worse. I even turned to look back out at the street to see if there was an accident. Silly me. He was just saying "hi."

Just when I'd %uFB01nally gotten used to "what's up?" instead of "hi", the culture changes again and so does the greeting.

I think our most interesting language comes from outsiders and technology. However, I can still be fogeyish about some usage. Many years ago when I sat in school board meetings, I jerked my head up when "impact" started being used as a verb. Finances and class size were being discussed not in terms of the impact a certain decision would have, but in how decisions would "impact" class size and %uFB01nance. I hated it then and I hate it now. Not to mention of%uFB01cials who are in charge of budgets using "moneys" instead of money. I guess when you're asking to spend several million, it sounds better to dress it up. Worst of all was using the word "service," clearly a barnyard term, instead of serve, as in "If we do such and such, we'll be able to service three more classrooms." 

I've been burned online. For at least a year or two, I thought that LOL meant "lots of love." I'm sure I used it in emails to people who were ill, had a death in the family, or some other misfortune.

I've given up on trying to %uFB01ght the use of "like" as a sentence-%uFB01ller. I'm not sure why it started, but when one of my granddaughters tries to tell me about something that happened, I try to like avoid like interrupting like with a lecture, but I think of how much they'll have to unlearn if they like do any public speaking.

Several years ago I put my head in my hands when Caroline Kennedy, hoping to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate, used "you know" over 100 times in a televised interview. It was painful. It, you know, ended her aspirations. Maybe they won't notice in Japan.

Another speech habit that makes no sense is the use of "sort of" in serious discussions. I hear it most often from young pundits and policy types who give the impression that they sort of don't really know what they're sort of talking about. For instance, I wouldn't be surprised to hear a news person say something like "Egypt is sort of in %uFB02ames, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the military sort of killing each other."

I note that young newscasters have acquired the habit of starting a sentence, abandoning it, and continuing anew. For instance, "Now Governor Quinn and the teachers union, they were caught in cross%uFB01re . . ." Now former English teachers, they sort of weep.

And for the love of God, can we all stop using "amazing?"

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