Grammatical peeves

Verbification. Coining a verb from a noun. It makes any English purist shudder. I’d like to strangle those who originated or help perpetuate these:

Summit: To reach the top of a mountain, to reach the summit.

Medal or podium: To earn a medal in a competition, which often means you get to stand on a podium to receive it.

And at 6 a.m., I can’t remember the others.

Oh yes, the noun embed: A reporter traveling with U.S. troops in Iraq. Could anything be worse than this ghastly term coined by the media? Sounds like an impacted tooth, or a bullet that needs to be dug out, or something. Yuck!

Hero: Another peeve of mine, especially since 9/11, is the extreme overuse of the word hero. I wince when I hear it. The word hardly has any meaning left; these days it seems almost everyone is a hero. Are people heroes for simply doing their jobs, jobs they chose to do? Is Jessica Lynch a hero because her captors happened not to kill her? Are all our soldiers in Iraq heroes because they happened to have been stationed there instead of somewhere else?

Declaring everyone a hero diminishes the meaning of the accolade for those who truly deserve it for doing something extraordinary, something far beyond simply following orders or being lucky enough to survive an unfortunate situation. Be an Audie Murphy, or the passerby who pulls a child from a burning building, or the airline passenger who attacks a terrorist hijacker in order to save intended victims on the ground. Do something selfless, something beyond the call, something you didn’t have to do and few would do. Then I’ll call you a hero.

And speaking of 9/11, if I hear the adjective horrific one more time, I’ll scream.



Categories: language

Tags: ,

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke

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