SOPHISTICATE VRS CLODHOPPER

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Do you want to look sophisticated? Do you want people to think you’re really hep? Do you want to appear as though you are cookin’ with gas?

Okay, first of all don’t use words like “hep” and phrases like “cookin’ with gas.” Nobody has said those things since the 1940s.

What is it about some people that they hold onto the phrases of their day—long after their day?

I guess some are big fans of the passé.

“Radical” was worn out by the end of the 90s but I still hear it. I don’t remember when “super” passed away, but it’s still out there for those who have not “gotten the memo.”

See? Now they have me doing it.

I once worked with a guy who, when someone said something interesting, he would say. “swingin’.” That went out of fashion in the 1950s along with “ginchy” and blue suede shoes.

“Cool” seems to have survived the ages, while “hot” has not. “Cool” jumped the acceptability barrier and continues as a symbol of approval.

Hard to say why some catchwords and phrases live on while others fall out of wide usage.

A woman I worked with a few years ago did everything imaginable to appear chic, worldly, and way out there on the front lines of really smart stuff. However, her efforts were so clumsy that she came off looking like a hick.

She would use what she apparently believed were the current catch phrases, “Don’t go there,” and “I didn’t see that coming,” not realizing that they had long since been relegated to the conversational slag heap.

She apparently never heard the groans coming from others in meetings when she would toss in words like “Paradigm,” “Algorithms,” and “Modalities.”

I guess she figured her bosses would think she was really hep.

If I ever again hear someone say “at this point in time” I may “toss my cookies” on their blue suede shoes.

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