General Question

cookieman's avatar

To kill a fly with a hammer: a language question.

Asked by cookieman (35698points) September 29th, 2008 from iPhone

Have you noticed an escalation in the language? Does it trouble you? Please share an example. Here’s mine:

“If you think I’m going to eat that cookie,...
– you would be mistaken.
– you’d be so wrong.
– you’re out of your mind.
– you must be on crack.

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13 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

I’m not fully understanding what you’re asking here.

There’s a clear escalation in the four possible endings you suggested. But what about it is supposed to trouble me? If I thought you were going to eat the cookie and you said I was on crack?

I could use a cookie…

qualitycontrol's avatar

“If you think I’m going to smoke that crack,...
-you’re mad
-you’re crazy
-you’re 3 sheets to the wind
-you’re fucked up

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Hi cprevite, interesting question. especially to me (i’m a linguistics major)

I think it depends on your social sphere, who you usually talk to. For example, I could easily imagine a high school student saying the last two. My mother? Never.

I think it depends also on the individual. My friends tell me I’m quite hyperbolic, meaning I would probably say, “you’d be so wrong because i wouldn’t eat that cookie if you paid me a MILLION dollars! ... that’s the most disgusting thing in the ENTIRE world, i NEVER eat cookies off the floor, you guys are PIGS”

But on the other hand, a lot of people don’t talk like that.

So I guess if you’ve noticed an “escalation” I would ask if you’ve been spending more time around people aged 14–24 lately than before?

robmandu's avatar

“If you think I’m going to eat that cookie,...

…you’d be right on! Gimme dat!

qualitycontrol's avatar

hey La Chica…what’s lingusitics like? I was thinking about going into that. What type of courses do you take and what do you study? Tell me about it!!

lapilofu's avatar

I’m not sure I get the question. Are you suggesting there’s been a recent escalation over time in the melodrama of the words we choose?

If so, it’s certainly not something that I’ve noticed. If anything, I’d suggest that our word selection, overall, has gotten softer over recent years.

Check out last week’s On Language column from the NYT Magazine regarding increased abuse of the conditional as a method of expressing humility.

“What bugs me, however, is the growing abuse of the conditional mood. ‘I would hope that we can finish the bill next week,’ said the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. At the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney was saying, ‘I would hope that it’d be one of the issues in this campaign.’ Why the wishy-washy would hope? If what event did not intervene? Why not a straightforward ‘I hope we can’ and ‘I hope it will be,’ unencumbered by the moody modifier?”

Obviously this article is specifically about politicians’ use of language, so noticing trends like this really depends on the sort of people you run with.

cookieman's avatar

@lapilofu: Yup, that’s exactly what I meant. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

qualitycontrol's avatar

double speak is the devil

morphail's avatar

I don’t trust Safire. He says “Would is a modal verb, which means that it expresses a mood.” This is wrong. “Can” and “will” are also modal verbs, but do they express moods? “Would” is used to express politeness, that’s all.

lapilofu's avatar

I don’t really know much about the subject myself, but after a little research, I found this handy page about the distinction between mood and modality.

pathfinder's avatar

You Make a balance among.Eaven you are useing a hamer to kill a fly.The fly is outnumbered.Is that ferenought?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Pathfinder, what?

cookieman's avatar

Huh? pathfinder?

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