Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fascinated by a grossly-overused word


M'man Andy Naselli had a post on the Harry Potter books, in the meta of which I made some comments which were then roundly-ignored. But two comments after mine, a writer begins, "I am fascinated by the argument that...."

Oh. My. Gosh. "Fascinated"? Are you? Are you really?


So, the argument makes you drop everything, sit down limp and slack-jawed, and just ponder? Ponder in rapt engrossment, in helpless musing and reflection? Eyes glazed, all other activities or responsibilities forgotten, as this one concept holds you as a helpless captive?

Really?


The reason this poor soul came into my cross-hairs is that I am just saturated to bursting with the over-use of the adjective "fascinating." You aren't? Oh, then subject yourselves to fifteen minutes of Dennis Prager (if your head doesn't explode under the unceasing barrage of first-person singular pronouns), or of Michael Medved.

I mean, good heavens, how do these two men ever get anything done? EVERYTHING fascinates them! Everything! This argument, that point, the other subject; this book, that person, the other movie. It's all "fascinating"!

Nothing is mildly interesting, nothing is worth noting, nothing is of passing import. It's all "faaaaaaascinating"!

Honestly, how do you get through your day, when every single object of thought causes your hands to release what they are holding, your jaw muscles to let go, and your legs to collapse? When everything seizes hold of your undivided attention, keeping every power of the brain in a vicelike death-grip? How? How?

...

Okay, I feel a little better now.

I think the Inigo Montoya hypothesis is what most likely applies here — only not about the word "inconceivable."


42 comments:

JackW said...

I blame Spock.

TM said...

Are you fascinated by the over-use of the word "fascinating"?

:-)

Blessings
Tom

DJP said...

Yeah, you beat me, Jack. As I showered I thought, "Say, one of those graphics should be Spock!"

And TM, in the sense that it made me drop everything and go on and on about it... evidently.

(c:

NoLongerBlind said...

This post certainly gives me pause....

chrish said...

I like a quote (attributed to CS Lewis, but I'm open to correction) that says something to this effect: Never use 'profound' when you mean 'interesting;' you'll have no words left for when something is truly profound.

It's a similar frustration to mine over the word "awesome."

David Kjos said...

Fascinating post, Dan! (If it had been even slightly humorous, I'd say "hilarious.")

Yeah, I'm with you.

GZimmy said...

I'm frustrated by the overuse of "fascinating", and "interesting", and..."frustrating".

Rabbit said...

There are a very few things in this world worthy of words like "fascinating." Or "amazing." Oh! Or "hate." When we immediately run to the superlative, what's left?

Kristine said...

Funny.

Though I'm not a huge user of the word "fascinating", I must plead guilty for the overuse of words like, "amazing" and "profound". It seems the harder I try to rein my overstatements in, the greater I fail in my little pursuit. Sorry ;)

Brad Williams said...

You know, I'm convinced that the over use of good words like "seriously" and "awesome" and "fascinating" is why we wind up with words like "fo-shizzle."

Also, in defense of Spock, when he said "fascinating" he looked fascinated.

And in my old D&D days, when your character got "fascinated" something really bad was about to happen to you.

And yes, I am an uber-geek.

And yes, I just helped to overuse "uber" along with everyone else.

And Dan, I linked you today. You should get one more hit if my wife bothers to read my blog today.

SandMan said...

I don't mean to derail... but I would take it. In my world of trying to get middle-schoolers interested in anything I think I would go slack-jawed if they found something fascinating. Instead, their favorite word is "fail." Everything is "fail." "Johnny did you bring your homework to class?" His response, "fail." On and on it goes.
This one goes to show how accurate they are: one who fails is a "failer."

My two cents... keep the change.

Jay said...

Of course if everyone starts using the word "fascinating" to mean "mildly interesting," then in a few generations "fascinating" will mean "mildly interesting."

If the dictionaries can't keep up with how people are actually using the word then that's just their problem. :)

DJP said...

Brad - sweet!

Rabbit said...

Apparently, that Husky photo fascinates me, because I keep coming back to look at it.

Jugulum said...

I'm with you, Dan. The over-use of "fascinating" makes me literally explode every time I see it.

Paula said...

DJP said, I am just saturated to bursting...

Oh. My. Gosh. "Bursting"? Are you really lying there like a beached whale that's been languishing on the beach, in the sun for a month and is so bloated that merely touching it causes it to spew out noxious body fluids like a plump, overripe tomato? Are you? Are you really?

Angie B. said...

I love Medved.

Now it's time for a post on the incorrectly used and over-used word "literally." It popped up a few years ago and now I'm hearing it everywhere. It's literally driving me crazy.

Al said...

This is the most wonderful post I have ever read.

al sends

JackW said...

I don’t listen to him anymore, but I understand that our Presidents use of the word “unprecedented” is.

DJP said...

This blog has the most sarcastic readers in blogdom.

However did that happen?!

And Paula: evidently, yes. Hence this rant.

Jug - is your memory this good? If so... scary.

DJP said...

Sandman: "fail" is huge at my house. It's probably mainly my fault, thanks to failblog.org.

And by the way - Sandman? You complaining about "fail"?

Fail!!

jmb said...

The next time someone says to me, "I'll be more than happy to (whatever)," I'm going to ask, "You mean you're ecstatic?"

BTW, it's "rapt," not "wrapt."

DJP said...

Oh goodness, of course you're right.

Thanks!

Pity I don't make my email easily available to everyone, or you could have have just....

Oh. Wait.

Jugulum said...

Dan,

Nope, I never read that, actually.

I was more drawing on my own recent campaign on the subject of "literally".

Jugulum said...

jmb,

Actually, "more than happy" is valid. One sense of the word "happy" is something like, "an average level of happiness". Like, "I'm not just happy, I'm ecstatic!"

So, "more than happy" means "beyond what you would normally call just 'happy'".

Dave said...

When we immediately run to the superlative, what's left?

Simple...you just add very and BAM! you've kicked it up a notch. :D

SandMan said...

And by the way - Sandman? You complaining about "fail"?

Fail!!


NOOOOO! Not you too. I am literally, profoundly, unprecedentedly (what? it's a word), frustrated with your fascination with the word "fail!"

WV: spasmi= what this comment is.

SandMan said...

Actually, "more than happy" is valid.

Because there were sixth other dwarves.

Jugulum said...

Verbing nouns and oversuperlativizing are perfectly cromulent manners of linguistic expression. Figuratively speaking.

David Kjos said...

"you just add very and BAM! you've kicked it up a notch."

As in, this is a very unique blog?

lee n. field said...

Insightful. Your comments are literally mindblowing. Or something.

jmb said...

Jugulum -

My point was that "happy" would be just fine (e.g. "I'm happy to do that for you.") "More than happy" is another example of the over-use of superlatives in our society.

Jugulum said...

jmb,

Ohhhhh. Gotcha.

My cheeks are literally burning. I mean, I'm figuratively embarrassed.

jmb said...

For your sake, I hope you mean figuratively burning.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh good grief... I'm laughing out loud!

Feeling just a wee bit sarcastic today, Dan?

This brings to mind your "verbing the nouns" post of a while back.

Or the British tendency to exaggerate the mundane, while down-playing things that actually are a big deal. You know... the traffic may be utterly wretched but if you've been in the hospital for emergency surgery you'd say you'd been feeling a bit rough or something.

Rachael Starke said...

Okay, this is a bit of a side note (only because I totally agree) -

Do you think when the writers of the Princess Bride came up with that phrase that they knew they had just created the defining phrase for all of post-modern American life?

Rachael Starke said...

And also -

Is it a sign of the times in which we live that I saw that piture of Spock and thought "Ooooh. Bad Botox. Reeeeaaaallly bad."

Susan said...

Paula said: "Are you really lying there like a beached whale that's been languishing on the beach, in the sun for a month and is so bloated that merely touching it causes it to spew out noxious body fluids like a plump, overripe tomato? Are you? Are you really?"

Brava, Paula, for stringing together for me in one sentence two very distinct memories:

1) A high school math teacher who was secretly named the "beached whale" by one of my friends who disliked her very much (the teacher hardly taught us anything); and

2) A college friend whose face was described by another frustrated friend as an overly ripe tomato because words never seemed to stop gushing from his mouth!

Now why is it that this blog often triggers certain deeply buried strange memories of mine? How utterly fascinating!!

Rita Martinez said...

*sniffles* I'm going to go cry to my mom now...I use..MISuse that word...not a whole lot, but I'm never truly fascinated about whatever I say I'm fascinated about...and now you've ruined it for me Mr. Phillips! thanks!! :'(

DJP said...

Algún día, Ritacita, me oirás hablando en español; y entonces reirás.

Rita Martinez said...

hey! :P Espero escucharle hablar en español Mr. Phillips, y trataré de no reirme :D

~Mark said...

The abuse of "love" is a pet peeve for me. Most significantly when people who've known each other for 48 hours as friends or otherwise talk about how they love each other, or how somebody loves a show, or loves someone they've never met but admire.