November 18 2010

This morning I happened to read the label on the container of the hair spray that I use after every shampoo and discovered that it promised to “volumize” my hair. The truth is, my hair has always needed volumizing. Somehow the genes that helped to grow thick hair on my father’s chest, legs and back did not find their way into the roots on my head.

In the midst of the volumization project, I got to thinking about the words and phrases that pop up in ads, on talk shows and in the mouths of politicians.

And in the chatter of sports announcers. I have a major problem with one of the guys who works the mike before and after baseball games in my town. Here is an example: “Prince Fielder, he’s the toughest competitor you’ll ever see.” Or this: “Brett Favre, he’s got an arm you can’t believe. And the coach, he’s just dying out there.” And Anne Stratton, she’s thinking of strangling the radio guy who is teaching every young sports fan to talk the same way.

Duplicating the subject is fine for occasional emphasis or as a contrast, as in, “Julie has bright blue eyes, but her brother Jim, he has the darkest brown eyes you ever saw.”

A few years ago I wrote the sportscaster a letter. I asked him to set a better example. And the guy, he never wrote back to me.

The phrase “as we go forward” distracts me every time I hear it, and I hear it a lot. I’m guessing politicians have trademarked it, possibly because it sounds so professorish, so much more cultured than saying “next year” or “someday soon.”

Listen the next time you hear an interview with a politician of any ilk (love that word ilk). He or she is likely to begin a sentence this way: “As we go forward, we will find a way to (insert whatever you wish for here) end the war, end world hunger, fly to Mars, get along with the members of the other party, lower the cost of health care, raise taxes, lower taxes, and give every member of Congress a chance to perform on “Dancing with the Stars.”

I wonder where else we might go--backward?

Time For Others to Vent

Now it’s your turn to vent. Please leave a comment telling me about your grammar pet peeve.