Say What?

Comedians can really make you laugh—and sometimes a good laugh is just what a body needs. I was watching a stand-up comic show the other day and this guy had me in stitches laughing. What he said was that some folks who want to brag about their new house will say, “I had my house built from the ground up.” Aren’t all houses built from the foundation up? Even mobile homes are built from the foundation up—no one either builds or assembles a house starting with the roof. Then I started thinking about some of the other things we say—such as telling someone to “look up under” as in “look up under the bed.” Exactly which way is the person supposed to look– up, or under? How do you look “up under” a bed? Some of this is just plain old excess verbiage such as screaming and telling a child to “Get down off that thing.” Well, if he gets down won’t he be off the thing? If he gets off then whether he goes up or down won’t that fix the situation? Ever heard anyone say, “Off of” as in “get off of my car.” Why not just “get off” the car.” Someone made a song years ago with the lyrics, “Hey you, get off of my cloud.” Just “get off” my cloud would have been sufficient.

My high school English teacher, Mrs. Ruth Esther Manning Jones, was one of the best teachers ever. She always told us to stop talking with a lazy tongue. What she meant was that we should not say things like “do” for “door” and “flo” for “floor.” But she also told us never to begin a sentence with the words “I mean.” If you listen to any television commentary show, some of the top political, financial, or any other so-called experts, routinely start talking by saying, “I mean.” Mrs. Jones always told us that folks who started talking by saying “I mean” were uneducated. One should never say “I mean” unless something has already been said that needs clarifying, then of course the person should say, “I meant.” “I mean” falls in the same category of sentence starters as “first of all.” Saying “first of all” to start a sentence should never be done unless you also have a “second of all,” or a “third of all.” Some people say “first of all” and nothing else follows. Then there is that “me myself” talk. Ever heard folks say, “Me myself” as if they were two people rolled into one?

Some comedians have made good money poking fun of how folks talk, such as the very comical “What it wuz.” “What it wuz” is now seen as truly laughable because it is always used by someone trying to explain how they got involved in some kind of situation that they now need to explain away—to not include them. “What it wuz” is the street version of folks who start a sentence by saying, “Let me say this.” I think Bill Clinton said “Let me say this” a lot during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “Let me say this” is typically used by folks who want to show their superior intellect about a situation. I think I need to start a new weekly column called “Let Me Say This.”

Copyright 2014 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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Wednesday Wisdom