No one ever says “Bully”

Shawn Magrath

No one ever says “Bully.” I mean, people say it, just not in the context I’m talking about. What I mean is that no one uses the term “Bully” as an adjective to explain how extraordinarily great something is. Granted, it’s possibly because it’s not 1910 anymore, but it used to be a common expression, so why don’t we still use it?

I’ve always thought language and communication is an interesting topic. I wonder, why does slang and common pros change as culture changes? How much influence does culture have on language anyway? And why isn’t the average person in this country as well versed in reading, writing and spoken language as we once were?

I have a theory that over the years, we’ve become a little lazier in our written and spoken language, which of course, I’m plenty guilty of too. I might even go so far as to say that abbreviations and acronyms are more understood in writing and much more widely used than the complete spelling of words. Avid Facebookers might know what I’m talking about: LOL means laugh out loud; IDK, I don’t know; BTW, by the way; YNTTMWTMBISACDK; you need to tell me what this means because I sure as crap don’t know (which is one I made up for myself. It seems pretty obvious to me). Sure, it’s fun to use this stuff in social media, but when high school students write these acronyms in formal essays (which is happening more than anyone would like to admit), it becomes sort of problematic, doesn’t it?

We’ve become so lazy in oral communication that we don’t even finish a full sentence – even the most simple, single-word sentences. If you’re like me, “Thank You” has been shortened to “Thanks.” “Yes” has become “Yeah” (which isn’t even a word more than it is just the sound of someone exhaling with a “Yuh” in front of it) and one of my favorites, “I don’t know” is dumbed down to “iouoh” (pronounced i-uh-oh, slurred together in one easy, single syllable, grunt-like noise).

What happened to us? Maybe it’s time to put more emphasis on great literates like Hemmingway, Conrad and (loud gulp), Shakespeare. Not that I think doing so will encourage anyone to speak in pros that hasn’t been used in 300 years, though it would be fun. “Yay, thou hast held the door open for me and surely for it, I offer my deepest gratitude.” Maybe just a full “Thank you” would be nice enough.