‘No problem’ — Considering new words and old phrases

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

It would appear that the world did not come to an end last Saturday. I’m writing and you’re reading – but could that mean that the Rapture left us behind and we just haven’t yet missed those who were plucked from among us?

Eerie thought.

Let us take comfort wherever we find it. For me, that means playing with words and phrases, in no particular order.

To start, and to take the edge off my sometimes contentious image, kudos to restaurant managers who are (usually) custodians of the atmosphere in their places of business, and that wretched phrase, “No problem,” is no longer the universal acknowledgment for “Thanks.” “You’re welcome” surely takes no more effort and seems to be making a comeback. At least in most of the eateries we frequent.

A phrase from my childhood seems to be making a new foray into the popular lexicon: “Turned out...” or “As it turns out....”

It’s nothing new, just not used so much, and someone unconsciously used it to allow a little extra space in his reporting. See if you don’t notice it now and then. We’re more likely to say “Long story short” these days.

The term “footage” is readily understood by most of us to mean a strip of images on film, but do younger editors know what footage is when used in the digital world? Videos are not made of spools on wheels any more – are they?

Euphemisms abound in modern communication, and blest be the eye that catches them. I’m a vigilante dedicated to exposing wussy phrases like “snow event” or “weather issues” instead of “blizzard” or “rain.” C’mon, TV weather persons, we’re not going to panic if you use the real name for those conditions.

I noticed that an Associated Press correspondent used such a euphemism in a report about Billy Graham’s recent hospitalization for a “health episode.” Say what?

It said the renowned pastor “arrived Wednesday morning at Mission Hospital after he suffered a health episode overnight that included sweating, coughing, and breathing difficulty ...”

My personal favorite hit me upside the head in another AP release last week. The term is “under parked” and I’m not going to explain what that means until the end of this column. Don’t cheat and look now, and don’t think it has anything to do with cats hiding “under parked” cars.

Word-processing software may be blamed for an overabundance of hyphenations in the AJC’s editorial sections. I caught myself reading two adjacent columns of print so narrow they hold only a word or two per line. Hyphenating errors like cal-ling instead of call-ing got past the editor’s perusal.

Was going to run out some lists of new words recently included by the Oxford Dictionary people, but I know I’d miss your favorites, and there’s not enough room to get them all. Do a Google search on “new words” and you’ll find the mother lode.

So. Here’s a little number trick that may have already made it to your Inbox.

What do you get when you add together the last two digits of the year in which you were born and the age you will be on your birthday this year? The number: 111.

The number is always 111.

It worked for me (’36 + 75) so I put in Dave’s statistics: ’31 + 80 = 111.

Try it. It amazes everyone I’ve shown it to. That’s but one of some interesting exercises generated by the plethora of 1’s in this year of 2011. Google to find more.

“Under parked?” Another instance of turning a noun into a verb, and a transitive verb at that.

The article (also from AP, I think) was reviewing some findings about the dearth of green spaces for urban recreational use. The writer declared Los Angeles one of the most “under parked” urban areas in the nation. I found a few more in Santa Ana, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; and Vine City/Atlanta.

Does that make our green town over parked?

[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is SallieS@Juno.com.]

mudcat's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Well, Sally

That's because it is 2011. Wait until next year and do it again. Answer 112. Year 2012.

Or you can subtract your age from 111 and get the last 2 digits of your birth year.

roundabout's picture
Joined: 01/01/2011
Well, Sally

I think the "doomsday" preacher had a better math equation except he said he made a math error.
The end is exactly 5 months from May 21, the first prediction.

So we have to go through that again soon. How does one make a 5 month error concerning the end of the world?
Relating to your newspaper errors you see occasionally, I must remind you that all proofreaders were laid off some time ago what with spell-checker!

We now live in a "Chinese" world as far as "mistakes are concerned. I once spent some time in a Chinese City and discovered that when someone made an error or mistake, it was funny to them.
When I asked why, they said, "it is wonderful to get to do something again." (shows I am human, I suppose).

Things have now gotten so complicated, for which we are under-schooled, that we are in that same boat!

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