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LETTERS || Linguists who love to hate ‘like’ fail to realize word can add clarity



Published: Sun, June 23, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Linguists who love to hate ‘like’ fail to realize word can add clarity

I am eager to dispel the notion that a single, objectively correct manner of speaking exists. We laud the stylistic speech of lawyers and businesspersons as such, but tend to remain ignorant of the fact that language is dynamic and evolving. Stephen Fry, in his essay “Don’t Mind Your Language,” cites Shakespeare’s tendency to create new words by converting nouns to verbs. Dissenters of “verbing” complain that it is an ugly practice. To this, Fry responds, “It’s only ugly because it’s new, and you don’t like it.”

That is not to say I am championing Fry as a defendant of “like.” I am, however, encouraging his consideration not to dispel the use of a word or phrase simply because it lacks aesthetic value.

“Like” naysayers treat the word as if it removes clarity of speech, but oftentimes it is used exclusively for the sake of clarity. For emphasis, “The show was, like, amazing.” Or to indicate hesitance, “We need to, like, talk about this.” These uses, while informal, relay additional information to the audience.

The only true risk unique to “like” is that it has taken on too many meanings. To even begin to war with that dilemma, one must also address “do” and “go.”

In his June 16 “Living with Children” column in The Vindicator, John Rosemond asserts that the use of “like” is indicative of a lack of proper thinking. However, he makes no distinction between formal and informal speech. To compare the speaking styles of professional adults to children is nonsense; to suggest that “like-ing” risks perpetual, involuntary use is a slippery-slope fallacy.

If the goal is to educate children, the approach should be two-pronged. First, we must teach them to speak appropriately to their audience. Systematically eliminating informal words used in informal contexts offers little gain. Then, we must teach them to abandon the use of words truly devoid of meaning. In formal speech, “um” and “uh” should be trimmed long before “like.”

Sean Ryan, Warren

Get outraged over Nitro Law stall

What has happened to Nitro’s Law, Ohio House Bill 90? For the past five years, this legislation has been bandied about in Columbus, with the end result always the same — it dies in the Ohio Senate.

This year, after passing unanimously in the House, some Senate Republican leaders appeared to use a new tactic to derail the bill. It was buried in the budget bill and no longer contains the original language that would have covered the atrocity that happened to Nitro and his kennel mates.

Steve Croley deprived 19 dogs of food and water until eight of them died. He lived on the same property where the animals were housed and had to walk by them every day. He did not “forget” to feed and provide water for them for a day, or even a week, he just quit feeding them altogether.

Veterinarians say that starvation is a process that takes about 30 days. Can you imagine the suffering those animals endured? Is this not abuse in its most cruel and heartless form? Yet some Senate leaders say this is negligence and want this provision to remain a misdemeanor. Speaking as a supporter of the this bill and member of Nitro’s Ohio Army, we are beyond outraged.

We neither understand the reluctance to keep the bill as written, nor do we have an explanation from Senate President Faber as to why this bill was buried in the budget. In the version passed by the House, Faber says in his own words, “There were things that we just didn’t understand.” What the supporters of this bill don’t understand is why increasing punishment for kennel owners or their employees who abuse animals in their care or starve them to death continues to be stonewalled.

Please, for the love of our companion animals, call Senate Leader Keith Faber at 614-466-7584, and tell him you want Nitro’s Law restored to its original language and voted on as a separate piece of legislation. We have had enough.

Mary Ellen Rhinehart, Canfield

Slow down on flower removal

It was less than two weeks since Memorial Day, and I asked myself, “Why do I even bother placing flowers on five family graves at Calvary Cemetery?”

I went there, and there was nary a flower in the entire cemetery. It happens every year: All the flowers have been removed. Why am I wasting my money? What could possibly be their reasoning?

I decorate the graves out of respect. I guess I’m done. What a shame. With all the young people looking for summer jobs, you mean they can’t hire extras to clean around the gravestones instead of mowing over everything.

Phyllis Ricchiiuti, Poland

Q.: Why get furious over spying? A.: Barack Obama is ringmaster

When it comes to the Obama administration’s spying on us through the collection and storage of our personal phone calls, emails, Internet activity, and whatever else, everyone seems to be dancing around the issue. The real reason people are so apoplectic about all this is that the person doing it is Barack Obama.

Obama, through his illegal gun running operation into Mexico (i.e. Fast and Furious scandal) and his abandonment of U.S. diplomats under terrorist attack in Libya (i.e. Benghazi scandal) that resulted in the deaths of Americans, has demonstrated that he cannot be trusted with anything, least of all our private communications. He continually has used his position as president to circumvent the law and attack organizations and citizens he does not like (i.e. IRS scandal).

People defending Obama’s eavesdropping — both Democrat and Republican — like to emphasize the integrity of the people running the CIA and the NSA, but they neglect to point out that these “righteous” people work for Obama, and in the end they will do whatever he tells them to do. When the head of the body is diseased, it does little good to compliment the well-manicured fingernails.

Defenders of Obama also like to state that it requires a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court to intercept communications, but the key word there is “foreign;” Obama is grabbing domestic communication records with no foreign connections. So who is issuing the warrants for those data grabs? The answer is no one.

The rules only work if you have people in power who follow the rules. We don’t, and that is why the public will not accept this type of surveillance until we can rid ourselves of Barack Obama and his ilk.

Joseph K. Waltenbaugh, New Castle, Pa.

Postal changes deliver frustration

I am beginning to wonder who is benefiting from the changes made by the U.S. Postal Service.

I recently returned a package to a mail-order company using its pre-typed return labels. After paying $2.07 to mail a 7-ounce package, I went home to await my refund. Imagine my surprise a few days later to find my neighbor at my door with my package in his hand. I assumed it was in California.

Evidently, after the U.S. Postal Service closed down the regional distribution center at our Youngstown Post Office, all our mail now gets shipped to Cleveland. They then shipped it back to Youngstown, whereupon our mailman delivered it to my neighbor.

I still haven’t received my refund check from California, but I’m sure the Cleveland Post Office will duly take care of it.

Pauline Janas, Youngstown


Comments

1GoPens(397 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Hey Walter. I actually agree with you for once that this spying on Americans is an outrageous intrusion into our lives. One question. Were you this outraged when Bush started this program? No? I thought not.

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