Actually, Absolutely


Download this episode | Open Player in New Window

The poor man had been over-run. By gibberish.

So I’m walking down the street. Enjoying the ambiance of the world’s greatest city – New York. Listening to the things that you can only hear while walking down a sidewalk in the big apple.
“Yeah, I had sex with a goose once. In Paris. It was a dead goose. You think I’d bang a live goose. Whattya think I’m some kind of sicko?”
Drone. Drone. Drone. Pilotless drone. A drone is by definition a pilotless aircraft. Drone, drone. (yeah, but who’s flying the plane there guy.)
“These aren’t my pants. These aren’t my pants. Someone shit in these pants.”
Ah New York. It doesn’t get any weirder than this. Or so I thought. Because just then a man walked up to me and said.
Uh, like essentially, to the extent that it absolutely…
He was obviously in distress.
You see, on the one hand, at the end of the day, it actually, essentially
And to tell you the truth, i’m not sure why I didn’t just keep walking.
You see with me personally,the net of it all is bascially, well actually
But it the guy was in real pain, and I could see it in his eyes. He’s was trying to communicate something pretty important
Vis – a – vis the appropriate and essential.
Stop talking.
But essentially
Just stop. Stop. Back ‘er down there your just not making any sense.
“Actually I’m absolutely not making any sense.” And then with a supreme effort of will, one that required him to grind his teeth together (teeth grinding sound) with such savage intensity that a crown flew off, at last he uttered a simple, clear coherent sentence.
“ahhhhhhhhhghg, help me.”
And then it all fell into place. This poor bastard had been overrun by gibberish.
Personally, it’s absolutely (shh shh shh, there there)
Actually, absolutely, personally, the fact of the matter is, Truly, Basically, essentially, ultimately
To the extent that. Honestly.
Truly, basically, deeply madly
There are a lot of scary things going on in the world right now. And, to me, gibberish is one of them. No, I’m not talking about buzzwords — although buzzword bingo is a fine way to pass the time in dull meetings, people can use buzzwords and actually mean something.
No, I’m talking about words far more hollow and insidious. Basically …
No, that wasn’t the the start of a sentence, that was the first culprit. “Basically” is a word that should be taken out back and shot. For it means, basically, nothing. You basically can put basically anywhere in a sentence and basically it means nothing. And people do it all the time. And they seem to do it more when then are trying to sound important. But Gravitas and Authority are something you, basically, can’t fake.
Even the highly overworked “like” is not as bad as basically. Like, although it is kind of barbarous, is a workable aloha word. So is went. It’s imprecise, but, it does some actual work.
And was like, “You’ve got tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert” and she was like “Ahhh” and I was like “ahhh!” And I’m like, shoot me. Actually, I’m not like shoot me. I’m exactly, shoot them. Shoot them both.
If the use of the word basically (or it’s unholy cousins who we will get to in a moment) was just a fad, then it would be harmless. But it’s not. These kind of empty words are the order of the day. Ugly, inaccurate and foolish. And it’s not just what I think — here’s how Orwell described it in his essay, Politics and the English language. Where he said the language —
“becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. ”
Its a vicious circle. Orwell wrote his essay as a kind of a last stand. He thought that people had given up hope, but if they were to take up the cause again, that a positive reform could be made. Actually,
Yeah, it’s that same pain in the ass rhetorical trick again. Actually is the next adverb up on our chopping block. But do not fear that the spectacle of us beheading these words will be to gruesome for a younger audience. Adverbs are uniformly bloodless things devoid of meaning. It’s not like killing a real word. It’s actually more like killing a stuffed replica of a word. It’s more like killing a stuffed replica of a word.
See how both those sentences say exactly the same thing. It’s actually quite surprising how temping it actually is to actually misuse this word. Actually, it’s basically effortless.
No, no, no however is okay word. He’s with us. He’s conjunction. Sure, however is a little old fashioned in his tweed suit with elbow patches. Sure, however can be used for evil, however, it can also perform a vital function in a sentence.
Actually, Essentially, is basically your worst offender. Because if something is truly essential, it captures the essence of the matter. And the essential, the fundamental, the most basic and integral never involves that which is extra or unneeded.
Here’s Orwell again.
English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers
It’s an interesting phrase he uses there. “Politcal regeneration” I have no direct experience of this “politcal regeneration”, but is sure does sound like something we could use a truckloads of. And step one, from presidential candidates down to the local manager, would be to stop using the language as a tool of obsfucation. Words are designed to carry meaning. And any language is, nessicarily, an imperfect instrument, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t even try.
The scary thing is not that people are so full of shit. Shit would be something. The scary thing is that they are full of nothing. And the scariest thing of all is people who are struggling to convey something, trying to wrestle with a thought or an idea, but just can’t because they have no words to describe it. And it could be because they never learned them, but it could also be that they had the words, but let them be washed away in the general wash of gibberish.
Which brings us back to that poor bastard on the NYC sidewalk.
Yes, you. You poor lost soul.
“Essentially, to the extent that the case is,”
I’d like to tell you that I reached out to this man.
“yu, yu, yu, yu, actually, it’s absolutely”
That I used what gifts and powers I had to soothe his fevered brain,
“Essential that, you absolutely”
calm his damaged language centers,
“It’s actually totally essential…”
But I did not.
(footsteps running away)
Tiny sfx: absolutely?
I ran. Maybe it makes me a bad person. But if this is the black death that rides the in plague ships of culture, if this disease is in any way catching. Well, personally, I want absolutely no part of it.
Ahhh! No, no, no essentially no! AHHHHHH!

5 replies on “Actually, Absolutely”

  1. So this guy, like, literally vomited this gibberish all over you?
    Misuse of “literally” makes me wish for duct tape. And possibly, occasionally…a shotgun.
    Thank you for another good (albeit depressing) laugh.

  2. I have little room to complain at such abuses. My speech is full of long pauses (thankfully “uhhh” free) as my brain struggles to re-string the telegraph wires between it and my toungue. It’s a trait inhereted from my maternal grandfather. I’m still looking for someone who thinks it charming.

    My writing is no better. My scalp is infested with superfluous commas which sprinkle over the page as I scratch my head in thought. Semi-colons taunt me with saucy winks that make me cringe at the thought of employing them. And if ink cartridges didn’t run dry I would print astonishing run-on sentences.

    By the way, I just registered. I hope that act is taken favorably on your end. I’ve listened to The Seanachai for a long time now. Remarkable, excellent, delightful work. Why is it that you’re not rich and famous?

  3. Okay, welcome back.

    Add me to the subscriber donation list for the year.

    My Christmas wish for 2009 is that we find our if evil succeeds, or at least resolve the issue between Edwin & little vicious Topper.

  4. “Yeah, but who’s flying the plane?”

    “Shoot them, shoot them both.”

    Ha! I do so enjoy topical references.

    – 10,000 quatloos on the newcomer.

Comments are closed.