2017-08-02Each Day VocabVogue words are popular and in this respect they are similar to catch-phrases. However, there’s a considerable difference between the two. Vogue words are, as a rule, OVERUSED (a moment ago I was about to write “…are, actually, OVERUSED…”, but remembered that the word “actuallyis, or probably, once was, a vogue word, the usage of which is frowned upon by the well-read). With time, vogue words wear off, lose their original meaning and are reduced to simple silence-fillers. At some point I was talking with a Ukrainian teenager who was rather fluent in English. She had been to a few European countries and communicated with foreign students from whom she borrowed some language habits. One of the habits was to use “like” after every other word. I remarked that it wasn’t the best kind of English to be practiced, and that at English-language schools where I had worked, teachers were trying hard to stop the endemic spread of “like.” The girl was rather smart – she immediately put the finger on the problem. “It’s like the word “типа” in the Russian language”, she said. (“Я был типа удивлен“ = I was like/sort of/kind of surprised). “Exactly,” I said. Since that time I never heard the girl using “like” in that ‘overused’ function any more.

In his Dictionary of Modern English Usage, H.G. Fowler says that, for him, ready acceptance of vogue words stands for the herd instinct and lack of individuality. “The better the writer, or at any rate the sounder his style, the less will he be found to indulge in the vogue word,” the auther writes.

For learners of English , the danger is that they may not even be aware that the loose use of vogue words is corrupting the vocabulary , and when significant words are not chosen, their speech may get uninteresting, to say the least of it.

Literally. Honestly. Absolutely… Our everyday language has become littered with such terms, so nondescript and ubiquitous that we barely even register their presence. Unique, a word meaning “unlike anything else,” has become so common that we now modify it with very or so to emphasize that it really is unlike anything else, rather than just somewhat different from the norm. Being truly ‘unique’ a thing does not need any more words to emphasize its ‘uniqueness”

Few of us haven’t fallen prey to the ease of peppering our conversations — and even our writing — with awesomes and totallys.

I do not call to go overboard and ban all vogue words. But we should just “think and feel” when we speak, and try to be interesting to our interlocutor by the language we use. For example, if our friend landed a good job, it would be better not to simply respond with the trite “Awesome!” or “Great!” or “Terrific!”, but come out with “You’ve made it, lad! I always knew you would.” Or just say (as an expression of a true English understatement) that his accomplishment was “well-deserved” , to which your friend, would probably say that your words “have warmed the cockles of his heart.” J

To finish with, here’s some vogue words which, in the past or at present, became so overused that they don’t mean much, or at least don’t mean what they meant before:

Literally, unique, awesome, amazing, totally, basically, incredible, really, very, absolutely, unbelievable, parameter, bottom line, interface, mode, space, immediate feedback, to close the loop, ballpark figure, to touch base with…

So, why use all the time iconic “(iconic cream”), if representing/produced by the company, etc is a good substitute ? In the same way: viable can be substituted with durable, lasting, effective or practical, unacceptable – with unwanted, improper, unpleasant, won’t do, image – with impression, feedback – with response.

Vogue words are sometimes called trendy words. But … TRENDY is the last stage before TACKY (Karl Otto Lagerfeld, a German fashion designer, artist and photographer)


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