Carpe Awesome Diem

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What’s happening to language?

It’s changing, of course.

We had breakfast a couple of days ago in one of our fine local restaurants.

The young waitress asked us what we’d like to drink, and when I said “water,” she said “awesome!”

It’s interesting how such reflexive overuse of words eventually empties them of meaning. Try saying “soul” a hundred times quickly and you can instantly experience that collapse of meaning.

Words are used for a complex of motives, including (1) to convey meaning, and (2) to announce our tribal membership in a Granfalloon.

The trouble is, even when the meaning runs its course, as it’s now done with “awesome,” the word continues to get used by the Granfalloon wannabes … and we’re all GF wannabes to some extent.

The word “awesome” is now the linguistic equivalent of a cold soufflé.

When everything is “awesome,” nothing is.

What word will we use next to convey our sense of awe and wonder and excitement?

Carpe Awesome Diem!

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3 Responses to “Carpe Awesome Diem”
  1. Anna Haynes says:

    One could argue that the Tea Party is a granfalloon.
    (thank you for that word, btw)

  2. depelton says:

    We can thank Kurt Vonnegut! 🙂 I first heard about granfalloons in one of his novels years ago, and I’ve noticed over the years that the concept keeps coming up.

    I agree about the Tea Party.

    But it’s also fun to discover what granfalloons you belong to!

    Vonnegut applied it to Hoosiers.

    When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley I had to write a paper for a Sociology class examining my “living group.”

    I was living by myself in a rooming house at the time — this was in the sixties — so I wrote a thinly-disguised tongue-in-cheek “sociological analysis” of people living in rooming houses. I made it all up, then went back and added a bunch of hyphens, because it seemed to me that sociology was the most hyphenated of all disciplines (peer-group-pressure, age-cohort, etc.).

    That was the only time in my life I ever got depressed about getting an “A.” Looking back, I believe I didn’t take any of it seriously because (1) it was the sixties, and (2) I really believed that the class of “people-who-lived-in-rooming-houses” was a Granfalloon (before I’d ever heard the word …so I just had a vague sense of it).

    I’m ashamed now of the arrogant sense of entitlement I had as a middle-class teen-aged college student whose parents were paying all the bills!

    Any way you look at it, it was awesome.

  3. Paul says:

    I’m as guilty of overusing the word “awesome” as anybody.. In fact, now I have to use the phrase “actually awesome” to mean “awesome.” But hey, at least I don’t abbreviate the words “you” or “are” … 🙂

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