Literally Exploding with Nerd Rage Transcript

Carrie Gillon 

Hi, welcome to the vocal fries podcast the podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Megan Figueroa 

I’m Megan Figueroa

Carrie Gillon 

and I’m Carrie Gillon.

Megan Figueroa 

So we always have to figure out who introduces the podcast each week. And it It feels like My Favorite Murder to me, where they never know who goes first.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s true.

Megan Figueroa 

I just okay. So it also reminds me and I want to say thank you for all the well wishes on Twitter, I defended my dissertation without passing out

Carrie Gillon 

but with passing

Megan Figueroa 

with passing, and I tweeted that it was perfect because that morning I was listening to My Favorite Murder. And they were talking about how nervous they were to play the Orpheum in Los Angeles, their hometown. And I tweeted at them that I was like, so grateful that like these wonderful ladies were talking about how nervous they were. And that I have my dissertation defense that day and Karen Kilgariff have tweeted, replied to me and said, “Give them hell,” and it was so awesome.

Carrie Gillon 

I know. I was, I was so happy.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, she’s so sweet. They’re both amazing.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, they’re very supportive. And I really like that.

Megan Figueroa 

I know, it’s very shine theory with them. They’re like,

Carrie Gillon 

yes.

Megan Figueroa 

upliftin other women. Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes. Which we should all strive to do.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes. So the internet really helped me and thank you all. You all uplifted me. So yeah,

Carrie Gillon 

that also reminds me, B. Got an email a few weeks ago now, I think, from Olivia James, who is one of the cohosts of Super Serious Social Justice Podcast, which you should also all listen to. Because obviously, there’s the social justice aspect that both of our podcasts have, so that’s awesome. Anyway, so she sent us a message and she said, “Hey, ladies, you guys have been one of my favorite podcasts ever. However, on Grammar Nazi, you ask who other than classic majors thinks Latin is the best language. And I have to come forward and say, me, that’s fucking awesome. Of course finding an old language cool doesn’t mean you have to be a snob either. So thanks for fighting the good fight on the grammar sno front.” And so I was wanting to say yes, Latin is cool.

Megan Figueroa 

It is. On that episode did I mentioned, I probably said this, but like Rushmore, I’m thinking of Max.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes, I saved Latin. What did you ever do?

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, exactly.

Carrie Gillon 

Which I think is on there as well.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I mean, you know, we’ll rep it again.

Carrie Gillon 

I just don’t want it to be more important than other languages. I think all languages are very cool.

Megan Figueroa 

 Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

That’s the only thing.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

And she also, “I also wanted to thank you for mentioning the grammar policing is very, very ablest. I rarely hear folks mentioning ableism. And it’s so embedded in language.” So true. It’s, it’s, it’s everywhere. And I know I still have some and I try to dig it out, but it’s embedded really in there.

Megan Figueroa 

I know, especially since so many times. I mean, not just linguists. I’m gonna call it linguists here a little bit, but other people forget about sign languages

Carrie Gillon 

yes, everybody does. Yeah,

Megan Figueroa 

it’s, it’s horrible.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, one of the things that most recently they came up about that was I can’t remember who it was, but somebody did an analysis and showed that women speak far less than men do on screen. And so someone said, Well, you know, Shape of Water isn’t going to help with that. And I was like, Well, okay, that’s true. Speech different from Sign in that sense, but she’s still using language on screen. And  I think we have to find a way to say that still counts. Like  still has lines. Right, right. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

Right.

Carrie Gillon 

So she’s a very important character. And I don’t want us to ignore that. So

Megan Figueroa 

well, and I watched the Oscars, and of course, I was on Twitter. Seeing what the Deaf folks that I follow, were saying they were happy about the representation of the Shape of Water, at least the ones that I was following, and they were happy to see it win.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah,

Megan Figueroa 

it would be it wouldn’t be good to somehow represent that those. Those things are happening.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, it’s still she’s still using language and that matters.

Megan Figueroa 

Right. Yeah, it kind of erases it. If we say

Carrie Gillon 

Well, nobody said that.

Megan Figueroa 

That’s not language

Carrie Gillon 

but it does still erase it in the sense of making speech more important than sign. And that’s problematic.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, yes. We got to fight the good fight, but a lot of people that forget about sign.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. And speaking of Well, not quite that but continuing on the same kind of topic. So the end of her email is “I’d love to hear you guys do an episode on language learning disability, for example, person first versus identity first language. Anyway, you’re the best. Thanks for doing what you want to do.” And I think we mentioned this before. We do want to get to that and we just haven’t yet. But yeah, absolutely. It’s important.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, definitely. There are several episodes that we can do about ableism.

Carrie Gillon 

Oh, so much.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. And language around disability.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. Yes. All right. And then we also wanted to thank dictionary.com for listing us as one of the language podcasts you should listen to.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

And if you don’t know it, we will post it again. But you should listen to all the podcasts on there.

Megan Figueroa 

It was just really exciting because I never thought that I would be able to like, you know, say, hey, the dictionary is talking about me.

Carrie Gillon 

Me either! I never in a million years thought that the dictionary would talk about me, even though I have co-edited a dictionary. It just doesn’t feel like yeah, quite the. I don’t know. I just wasn’t expecting it. So like that’s a thank you dictionary.com

Megan Figueroa 

I really felt like I made it because at 16 my AP English teacher who I loved, said her favorite book was the dictionary and I just like adored her and I wanted to be like her. So now I’m like, well, your favorite book talked about me.

Carrie Gillon 

That is pretty cool. One last piece of housekeeping. We’re going to have a bonus episode for March and it will be on Mr. doesn’t-have-an-accent Mike Rogers. And how problematic that is. I’m sure you can guess part of what we’re gonna say. But you know if you’re interested you can get that by becoming a patron at the $5 a month level.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, it’s pretty much gonna be like, nerd rage .com

Carrie Gillon 

speaking of, that’s what this whole episode is.

Megan Figueroa 

It’s nerd raging for like 30 minutes

Carrie Gillon 

there’s a lot of me sighing. like an excessive amount of me sighing.

Megan Figueroa 

Not just sighing. Heavy sighing.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes. I know.

Megan Figueroa 

And then me being  flustered and not knowing what to say. Just too many feelings

Carrie Gillon 

well

Megan Figueroa 

boiling.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes.

Megan Figueroa 

Coming to the surface. All right.

Carrie Gillon 

All right. Well, hope you enjoy this one.

Megan Figueroa 

Nerd rage. Nerd rage, right?

Carrie Gillon 

Yes. Yes, this episode is going to be nothing but nerd rage.

Megan Figueroa 

Yep. And now I’m like, just now this reminds me of the thing that was going around the Modcloth shirt called the podcast cohost shirt.

Carrie Gillon 

Mm hmm.

Megan Figueroa 

Thinking about how it was sleeveless, just enough fabric or lack of fabric so that you could just gesticulate wildly with your nerd rage

Carrie Gillon 

Everyone was complaining about it, but I was like, but it’s kind of a cute shirt.

Megan Figueroa 

Cute shirt. Yeah. I mean, they have some ridiculous names for their clothes.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. And they always have right when they first started, so

Megan Figueroa 

yeah. calling it a cohost, a podcast cohost shirt. They were just like, what should we call this one thing that came up.

Carrie Gillon 

Well, one reason why I actually kind of liked it was because I mean, women are podcasters, which is kind of nice. Because that’s not the stereotype.

Megan Figueroa 

That’s true. That’s a good point.

Carrie Gillon 

So I didn’t hate on it at all.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. But I really think is they need like a podcast cohost like sweatshirt, or like,

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, I know.

Megan Figueroa 

Something really comfy.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s true. I mean, you know, you can wear your pajamas when you’re podcasting. Yeah, you don’t have to be wearing such cute clothes. But I still liked it. Well, so today, we’re talking about this Time article that kept being sent to us. And I just wanted to say that actually, it’s kind of an old article from the Muse from 2015. And I think I’m pretty sure this is a list of words that I was asked to speak about for The List the TV show. So I’ve already spoken about this list before, but I think we need to speak about it together.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. And I, I realize now that I mean, the fact that this was from 2015, and that Time can like retweet it or up it again speaks volumes. This is just a thing like people are clicking on this.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes, like total clickbait.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, like, I mean, the people that shared it with us on Twitter, of course, we’re like, look how ridiculous this is. But there are other people on Twitter sharing it like, mmm-hmm, people should listen to this or you know, like they’re legitimate people out there that are like, we’ll read this and be like, “Okay, wow, I shouldn’t use these words anymore.”

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, people take it seriously. Who is this person who wrote this list? Jenny Haskamp who is she, why is she an expert to you?

Megan Figueroa 

Right?

Carrie Gillon 

Nothing wrong with her. But you know,  she’s not a language expert any more than most people are so. Why take her more seriously than us? Who actually are.

Megan Figueroa 

literally, literally, experts on language, thank you.

Carrie Gillon 

I mean, if you’re gonna listen to other people about stuff, make sure they actually are experts of what they’re talking about. And even then, you should still obviously take things, you know, somewhat skeptically. Make sure that you have, like, you’re not just taking what everyone says. verbatim, right? Like Think for yourself, but like, anyway,

Megan Figueroa 

yes. And it actually coupled well with another thing that we were sent at the end of January where this asshole bar owner in the East Village of New York or Manhattan, the owner of the Continental posted a sign on his door that said, “Sorry but if you say the word ‘literally’ inside continental you have five minutes to finish your drink and then you must leave. If you actually start a sentence with ‘I literally’ you must leave immediately!!! This is the most overused annoying word in the English language and we will not tolerate it. Stop Kardashianism now.” Heavy sigh.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s just so packed with bullshit.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes, packed with bullshit

Carrie Gillon 

like the the Kardashianism thing. That’s that’s an attack on women, especially young women.

Megan Figueroa 

Yep. Yeah, I mean, we’ve mentioned it before, and we’ll say it so many more times, I’m sure because people are hanging on to this. When you’re attacking the Kardashians for the way they speak. It’s not you’re not attacking. I don’t know.

Carrie Gillon 

Wealth, or celebrity you’re attacking women, you really are.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Like if you were talking there them that you wouldn’t really talk about the way that they speak or the words that they use, you would talk about the message that they’re sending. If you want to say that they’re problematic in some way or other, of course you can and you might be right. But you need to actually say what’s problematic if all you’re doing is using Kardashianism as a shorthand for young women of a certain class, like, it’s not okay. Be specific.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes, be specific in your critiques of, I mean, they might be very legitimate critiques, but we can’t take you seriously if what you’re attacking is the way that people speak.

Carrie Gillon  

Right.

Megan Figueroa 

And I mean, oh, This. I have no words. I mean, I do I have tons of words. I just can’t like, I hate this. I hate. I will never go to the Continental. that’s not a thing that’s gonna happen.

Carrie Gillon 

No, definitely not. Yeah, I mean, this guy is a real piece of work. So first of all, his name is Trigger Smith, which is an amazing name. He also hates “it’s all good.” “You know what I’m saying?” And “my bad.” Which, okay. I think we know what that’s code for.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

But even worse, the bar became notorious for banning saggy jeans, a policy that he’s defended by saying, “if you have a problem with that, open up your own bar with no dress code or door policy and see how long it lasts. That crowd will alienate and scare away your mainstream crowd until that’s all you have left.”

Megan Figueroa 

That is a that is seeping with racism.

Carrie Gillon 

Right now. No other way to interpret that.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, like, scare away mainstream. Like, I mean, it’s all coded like

Carrie Gillon 

coded language for black. Yeah. it’s horrible. So not only is he sexist, he’s also racist. And, you know, this goes along with my interpretation of the world where I think a lot of the isms and phobias go together. You know, some people only have one maybe, but I think most people have a good package of them. So if they, you know, show themselves to be racist, and you’re a white woman, beware, they’re going to also be sexist at some point, and vice versa.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s intersectional isms. intersectional. phobias. Yeah, they they do not discriminate with who they discriminate against.

Carrie Gillon 

Right? They really only like one kind of person

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, so fuck you Trigger. Fuck you.

Carrie Gillon 

wow. All right. So “literally,” I think the reason why people pick on literally not in setting aside the gender stuff, although that’s obviously part of it is because people have this idea that literally has to only mean in a literal sense. But there’s two things wrong with this one, originally literally referred to letters, like, of the alphabet. We don’t use literally in that way any more. And also that’s related to literacy, you can you can see the connection there. So if we’re going to use it the original way, then we should be taught using it to refer to literacy or something like that. We don’t. The second problem is literally has been used in in a more intense way like as an intensifier for at least since 1708. So Alexander Pope, who is not exactly known for being loose with his language, use once said in a letter to Henry Cromwell in 1708, “everyday with me is literally another yesterday.” That does not mean in a literal sense.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, it just cannot. It cannot be literal sense. No.

Carrie Gillon 

So so you’re wrong. This use is very, very old. And people only started complaining about it relatively recently. I think it was last hundred years. It might have been more recent than that. But it’s not been for the whole time. So back in the 1708, no one was complaining about literally being used in this intensifier way.

Megan Figueroa 

And, I mean, I hate to go back to sexism, but I have to think about how how much I love the character Chris Traeger and Parks and Recreation played by Rob Lowe and how they’ve written him to be this like adorkable character who always uses literally as an intensifier

Chris Traeger 

Pawnee is LITRALLY the greatest town in the country.

Megan Figueroa 

And it didn’t hit me until when we were talking about doing this episode that I find it so charming that Chris does this all the time. And I don’t know if I find it as charming if it was a female character that they had written to do this. Yeah, so this is my like internalized misogyny at play here, and it’s horrible. It’s frustrating.

Carrie Gillon 

It is very frustrating and I’m pretty sure they knew what they were doing, I’m pretty sure they were like, okay, we can have a male character do this but we can’t have a female character do this.

Megan Figueroa 

And we’re not like questioning his intelligence or anything or his competence at his job because he’s like the city manager, right. He has this important job. And and of course, this is like, in contrast to Leslie Knope, who has to be perfect all the time. And they do talk about like, there’s a lot of storylines about how she has to You know, work harder and everything because she’s female. So yeah, they probably did it on purpose.

Carrie Gillon 

I’m pretty sure that they did. They’re very clever writers. I think they knew what they were doing. And I also want to point out that a lot of people talk about how literally means figuratively and so you’re misusing it because you’re using it with the opposite interpretation. But that is not what it means. It’s an intensifier, not figuratively, so again if we change “everyday with me is literally another yesterday” if I say “everyday with me, it’s figuratively another yesterday” that sounds really bizarre

Megan Figueroa 

spiritual,

Carrie Gillon 

that’s not what it means.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah,

Carrie Gillon 

it just means it’s like another yesterday to a great amount. Like it’s REALLY like another yesterday and that is also another case of something changing into an intensifier “really.” So really used to mean in a real sense, just like literally

Megan Figueroa 

Ah, of course, yeah,

Carrie Gillon 

over time became an intensifier, and nobody complains about really, truly did the same thing. Very did the same thing. If you look at the etymology, these things all just mean real.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh,

Carrie Gillon 

and they’ve all become intensifiers and no one gives a shit.

Megan Figueroa 

And now it makes me like feel like literally it’s my baby and I want to protect it. Like why is why is everyone bullying literally when you see that really is the same way and all these other ones?

Carrie Gillon 

I think it feels more contentful I mean, it’s a slightly longer word. We can feel the literalness still in it, whereas with very I mean, that’s been an intensifier for so long. We don’t really think about ver- is like real, but we are we should we should so real. We really should and we don’t so anyway,

Megan Figueroa 

but it’s like “veritas.” Like it’s very like that kind of is that Really?

Carrie Gillon 

That’s where it comes from, yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh what?!?!? See, I don’t see that immediately.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, so veritas is related to very, yeah,

Megan Figueroa 

WHAT. Okay, see,

Chris Traeger 

that idea is literally the greatest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.

Carrie Gillon 

So I should also mention that Ben Zimmer is the one who did all the work on this and showing like just how old literally is and how very and really and truly have also equally undergone the same change over time. So yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, thanks, Ben.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, props to Ben. so anything else you want to say about literally?

Megan Figueroa 

I just I fucking like I love literally, like literally my favorite word.

Carrie Gillon 

Samsies.

Megan Figueroa 

I mean, yeah. Yeah,

Carrie Gillon 

and just get over yourself guys if you think like it’s like the worst thing ever. Really? Like it’s okay to dislike it if you just like it. You just like it, but to like complain about it publicly? I think. you’re just trying to make yourself seem cool, but it’s not really cool if everyone kind of semi agrees with you anyway.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. And yeah, and you might be loving your sexism show or something else.

Carrie Gillon 

Definitely. I definitely don’t get sexist. So, yeah. All right. So let’s look at some of the other words on this list.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I was saving myself here. Because, right when I read the first word, I was like, Oh, god, this is terrible.

Carrie Gillon 

That?

Megan Figueroa 

that!

Carrie Gillon 

“That” is a useful, useful word. And there are two different “that’s” and so which “that” are you talking about? And both of them have uses.

Megan Figueroa 

And guess what? She probably doesn’t know because she’s probably not an expert on language.

Carrie Gillon 

Nope.

Megan Figueroa 

I’m sorry, Jenny, or whatever your name is, but

Carrie Gillon 

well, so in this case. So her example is I have several friends that live in the neighborhood and she said, No, you have several friends who live in the neighborhood. we’ve already talked about this one. Both are fine.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And she says it’s superfluous. Most of the time. It is superfluous sometimes like you don’t absolutely 100% need it. You can delete some uses of “that.” “I said that he left” or “I said he left.” But sometimes, even where it’s sort of like, optional, I think it’s easier to read if you add the that. But anyway, whatever that’s not unimportant. You use it. You don’t like it, don’t use it.

Megan Figueroa 

And this is another thing where it’s like different when you speak versus when you write like, Yeah, when I’m writing, and I have to follow the rules of like society. I’ll be like, I’m editing and I’m like, Okay, yeah, I can see how I should probably, like, delete this. But when you’re speaking, if it comes out, it comes out, like, no one’s gonna go back and correct themselves with the word that. It’s just a ridiculous thing to ask me.

Carrie Gillon 

Right. And we do want to point out that the title is the 15 words you need to eliminate from your vocabulary, not from your writing. Like, maybe this is a different conversation with writing, although I still have some problems with it. But yeah, you can’t get rid of “that” from your vocabulary.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

The next one!

Carrie Gillon 

No.

And then we went.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh god.

Carrie Gillon 

So this is this is a style question, right? So she’s saying, I went to school, if you should consider drove skated, walk around, flew or whatever. And if you’re writing, especially if you’re writing something more evocative, I could see how you want to want to use a better verb.

Megan Figueroa 

But this is writing again, right?

Carrie Gillon 

Mm hmm.

Megan Figueroa 

I mean, she’s saying vocabulary. I feel like she must mean in writing.

Carrie Gillon 

Probably maybe the headline that might not be her fault. But “went: is sometimes the right verb. Sometimes you don’t know.

Megan Figueroa 

Um, oh, the next: honestly and absolutely she does not like these adverbs, eh.

Carrie Gillon 

I mean, they are sometimes overused and sometimes I think people use honestly when they’re like trying to obfuscate but I don’t think it’s always the case. Her point is the minute you tell your reader that this particular statement is honest, then you’ve applied the rest aren’t. Yeah, I don’t think it’s quite that strong. But you have you’re saying like this is more important taen what the rest of what I’ve said is Yeah, and you know, sometimes you might not want to do that, but I just honestly is fine.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. And absolutely “adding this word to most sentences is redundant.” Ah, I mean, again this is Yeah, this is just so much more relevant in writing it seems like she sounds like she’s talking about writing.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, yes.

Megan Figueroa 

oh look our friends very and really.

Carrie Gillon 

Okay. So in writing I do delete. So if I edit some on part of what I do for a living is edit. And I do take out a lot of berries because they do seem superfluous. However, in speech, not even noticed. I would never notice them

Megan Figueroa 

right. And listen to what she says about really, unless you’re a valley girl visiting from 1985. There’s no need to use really to modify an adjective or a verb or an adverb. Pick a different word to make your point.

Carrie Gillon 

Bullshit.

Chris Traeger 

You’re literally the meanest person I’ve ever met.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, so ah hi sexism? Um, you’re still here. You’re always here, aren’t you? Oh,

Carrie Gillon 

yes. sexism and ageism.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And I do think this is the most hilarious point. I don’t remember who pointed this out on Twitter but someone was like, oh, but woebegone is okay. So very is bad, but woebegone, that’s a better option. No, no. I’m not saying woebegone is always wrong. But in many cases, in many instances, that’s the wrong word choice.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, yeah. cuz she’s saying it. What is she saying? If you’re very happy, be ecstatic. If you’re very sad, perhaps you’re melancholy or depressed, woebegone even. Oh, my gosh. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. I mean, anyway, it’s fine, you know, to play around with vocabulary to like, find a better word, that  piece of advice is not necessarily wrong. It’s just eliminating from your vocabulary. redonkulous

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, yeah. And and the fact that anyone would tell anyone to do anything like that. okay. Listen, our whole podcast.

Carrie Gillon 

That’s true, but this is basically don’t like, yeah, don’t listen to these people. do what you want to do.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. I mean, the only time I would ever tell someone not to use a word is when it comes to slurs.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, you know. So I definitely say stay away from slurs.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, but I mean, now that number seven is amazing. Listen, I love the word amazing.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, I mean, it’s overused. Sure, but come on. It’s fine.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, always and never. Okay, she doesn’t like those.

Carrie Gillon 

That makes no sense because sometimes you really need to say, this never happens or This always happens. Now. Often people use it when that’s not true, but it’s sometimes true. And so you have to use them and you should not be eliminating these very important words – Haha very – from your vocabulary.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, there’s literally literally number 10. I’m surprised it’s not number one.

Carrie Gillon 

We’ve already talked about that. And we could talk about it for ages. So if you wanted to hear us talk about it more, just let us know. Because

Megan Figueroa 

I know there’s so much more to be said. And I can just talk about how much I love it.

Carrie Gillon 

I could give you more examples from literature where literally is used as an intensifier, not as figuratively, ah,

Megan Figueroa 

and I use it as both.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, of course, of course we use we use literally literally, of course we do. But, it’s had these two meanings since 1708. At the very least, side by side, because words do that words often have more than one meaning and we don’t really worry about it that much.

Megan Figueroa 

Right. Okay, so the word just, she describes it as a filler word, which is true for some instances of “just” but it’s not always the case that it’s a filler.

Carrie Gillon 

Well, she does say if you’re using it as a synonym for equitable, fair, even handed or impartial, then you can use it, but otherwise you shouldn’t use it. And I do think that just can be overused again, in writing – in speech doesn’t matter. But in writing it can be and again, I will sometimes edit those out because they  don’t really help but again, you can’t eliminate it. And I just keep making the same point over and over again. So I will stop.

Chris Traeger 

that literally went on forever. I thought you were never gonna stop talking.

Megan Figueroa 

Okay, so we have number 12 is maybe 13 is stuff 14 is things, stuff and things. Listen, sometimes. I just, ah, again, same point. I’m not going to get rid of saying stuff and things while I’m speaking. It’s a ridiculous thing. And yes, when you’re writing, if you go back to like, your English class in high school, of course, your teacher is gonna circle it and say, use another word, use what you are talking about or whatever. But

Carrie Gillon 

yeah, most of the time, you do want to have a better, more evocative word. But again, yeah, it’s fine. And I forgot to mention with just the only people who get picked on for that are women.

Megan Figueroa 

I was gonna say, I, and I use just a lot to ask for things. And I realized that I mean, it’s kind of hedging, or I’m like, when I need to ask for something, I like to soften it. And it’s because of how we as a society, want women to be, I mean,

Carrie Gillon 

and what’s wrong with being nice when we ask a question?

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I mean,

Carrie Gillon 

there’s nothing wrong with that.

Megan Figueroa 

Right.

Carrie Gillon 

So like, Yeah, sure. We socialize women to be nicer. And sometimes that’s bad, but in this case, it just don’t think that’s bad. Men should be more like women in this case,

Megan Figueroa  

yeah. Yeah, everyone should be more like women.

Carrie Gillon 

In this in this case. Yeah, I don’t want to say across the board because there are some things that we are socialized to do that I think are problematic, but

Megan Figueroa 

it’s true.

Carrie Gillon 

I dont’ think asking in a nice way is bad.

Megan Figueroa 

So the last one is irregardless, which is always a fun one.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, I mean, I I just think it’s a fun word, and I will use it sometimes. I mean, obviously, you wouldn’t use it in a formal setting. Well, unless the whole point was to talk about words that are constructed differently than we might expect, but people complain about it. Because regardless and irregardless mean the same thing, but there are so many examples of this in English so for example, flammable and inflammable. mean the exact same thing. So, if your complaint is well, regardless, is redundant. Well, so is inflammable. So. and?

Megan Figueroa 

Also she says this about it. This doesn’t mean what you think it means hefe, which is really weird to me that she decided to all of a sudden coda mix here and say hefe instead of boss. Um,

Carrie Gillon 

well, I would think it doesn’t this doesn’t mean what you think it means boss would sound kind of weird. So she would have to say something like, I don’t know homie or I don’t even know what would be a closer equivalent. Because it’s like, I don’t know. It’s You’re right. It’s weird that she borrows a word from Spanish. to I don’t know what bond herself to the reader.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I have no idea what she’s trying to do there. Because I don’t know enough about her. To know why she would use a Spanish word there.

Carrie Gillon 

I mean, she might be a Spanish speaker. I really don’t know but it does feel a little like pandering. but to who?

Megan Figueroa 

But in a weird way, I know. to who

Carrie Gillon 

That’s the thing. Like, maybe pandering is even the wrong word because it’s like, I don’t know. I just don’t understand.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, so um, and also she ends the article by saying “these 15 words are a great place to start trimming the fat from your prose: bonus, you’ll sound smarter.” So,

Carrie Gillon 

I mean, okay with the stuff and things, if you use better nouns, like nouns that actually describe what you’re talking about, then yeah, of course, that’s gonna make you sound smarter, but I don’t know.

Megan Figueroa 

But the idea that I mean, it’s problematic to me that there’s this idea that the words that we choose to use, define whether we’re smart or not. I mean, that goes back to so many isms, right?

Carrie Gillon 

It’s true, but she does say sound smarter not makes you smarter. And this is all about presenting yourself to a public and when you present yourself in a certain way, then yeah, certain people are gonna judge you. So basically what she’s telling you implicitly is you will be judged if you use these words, which is true.  that part is true.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. But she, like doesn’t want to offer up any like statement. That’s like, even though it’s fucking unfair. You’re gonna sound smarter if you use these words and get rid of these, or you’ll sound smarter if you don’t use these 15 words. So unless people are like, you know, couching things, in terms of like, oh, there’s systemic reasons why we don’t like these 15 words, so maybe get rid of them. And you’ll sound smarter. I’m like, uh, goodbye.

Carrie Gillon 

Right. You have absolutely have to make explicit what is going on. And she doesn’t do that because she buys into it.

Megan Figueroa 

Exactly. Yeah. So I think that’s the biggest problem I have with these 15 words kind of lists and they come up all the time, and it’s always by people that do buy into it. It’s not.

Carrie Gillon 

And no one ever asks a linguist, well, except for The List. So thank you The List for asking me.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. Maybe they don’t ask linguists because it would just be a bunch of nerd rage spilled onto the paper. It’s gonna be like this podcast or this episode. We’re like, all over the place with our anger.

Carrie Gillon 

Hulk Smash.

Megan Figueroa 

Hulk Smash. Exactly. Yeah. And of course, like, as we’re going down the list, there’s not much more to say,  we have the exact same thing to say about all of these words that she uses because it’s the same point over and over again, you know, like there’s no reason to eliminate there words from your vocabulary. When you’re speaking.

Are there any other words that we can think of the people complain about? I mean, literally, it’s just so picked on it and irregardless too. One of the things people say about irregardless is it’s made up well, I hate to tell you, but all words are made up at some point.

Yeah, there’s a whole I mean, it’s a it’s a can of worms. So I maybe shouldn’t even bring it up but Latinx is a thing that everyone’s like, it’s a made up word. And like, I always want to say

Carrie Gillon 

That’s true, but like again,

Megan Figueroa 

exactly.

Carrie Gillon 

All words are at some point and many have been made up in the last 20 years that we don’t complain about.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, exactly. I don’t it’s always something that’s like, there’s something deeper going on when you’re like it’s a made up word. I don’t want to use it.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s an excuse if you don’t want to actually directly attack what you want to attack because I know that that will make you look like a shitty human being. So instead, you attack the word or the language that the person uses because then you can be sneaky about it, but we see you we see what you’re doing.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, and this is a huge problem for singular they, you’re being a fucking asshole. When you like if you’re saying oh, I just it’s so hard for If you’re really gonna dig in deep and say, I can’t use singular they, because of like, my grammar or whatever, you’re being an asshole about something else. if you’re not willing to make an effort with that, and I know it’s gonna be hard.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s not that hard though. I mean, people have been using singular a since at least Shakespeare’s time. What are you’re talking about?

Megan Figueroa 

I was trying to give them a little bit of credit because I was just shitting on them. But yeah, it’s not that hard.

Carrie Gillon 

But I mean, out of all the things that they complain about that is not hard, like so a lot of people get confused because they think when you use singular they you’re supposed to use singular agreement on the verb, like “they is.” Which if that is your dialect, that’s fine for those of us that that’s not our dialect. No, you still use “they are” just like with you. It doesn’t matter if you is you singular or you plural, you still use “you are” and it’s fine. But if we had to switch to “they is” is then I would be like okay, that’s hard. Yes, you’re that’s a grammatical distinction. Really hard to break. so I’ve got another list because I want to keep on raging. So again, many of the same ones come up again like really, but for some reason this person doesn’t like “you.”

Megan Figueroa 

Okay?

Carrie Gillon 

Because I don’t want you to use like to speak directly to the reader, I guess when you’re like writing

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, of course it goes back to writing.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, this one is specifically about writing Okay, I’m gonna shit on that. Like, that’s really what it is. So yeah, but there are times when “you” is acceptable still, I think. “Feel” and “think” you should, you know, find different words for those of course because they’re not good enough, I don’t now.

Megan Figueroa 

Um, when I was a English tutor, I was tutoring students that were in AP English High School, AP English, and their AP English teacher didn’t want them to use the word “be” or any of its forms.

Carrie Gillon 

Oh, it’s so bizarre. Like a lot of people have this bugaboo about “be.” Because they think it they think it doesn’t mean anything or doesn’t do anything.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, it’s so important.

Carrie Gillon 

we we can’t do present tense without it in English for most things,

Megan Figueroa 

yeah, so I was like, as a linguist, as I was seeing this, I was like, Oh, this is so frustrating, but I have to like, tutor like help them get a good grade in the class and like, you know, rework, rework the sentences to help them not use “be,” but it was so frustrating because I was like, really hard to do because “be” its just everywhere, and it’s so important

Carrie Gillon 

It’s so bizarre, although I there is one place where I have this weird hatred of it. and it’s the hashtags #amwriting and #amediting. Why not just #writing, #editing? what’s the am doing there? I hate it. And it’s so stupid. And I know it’s just me. And I’m not saying anybody should stop doing it. Because no, that’s dumb. But like, that is what I’m thinking. I’m like,

Megan Figueroa 

I totally do hashtag #amwriting and I have no idea why I saw it once and that’s the only reason I use that hashtag

Carrie Gillon

Cuz that’s what people use! But if it was just me, I would use #writing or #editing. why do you need the am? Anyway it’s silly, it’s my pet peeve that is not a real thing.

Megan Figueroa

Yeah, I’m trying to think, I used to give my students the assignment of “tell me your linguistic pet peeves” and “literally” always comed up – “comed” haha!

Carrie Gillon

Oh my.

Megan Figueroa

That’s a remnant from my dissertation.

Carrie Gillon

Oh my, that’s a little dirtier than I was expecting.

Megan Figueroa

I’m sorry. Comes up. “Literally” always comes up. I can’t think of any other words that they really hated. But it’s always like 5 or 6, like enough people in each class that hate “literally.”

Carrie Gillon

This person also hates “as.”

Megan Figueroa

Yeah, try to get rid of that. Try.

Carrie Gillon

There are two kinds of “as”es. One that introduces a whole clause and one that is more like a preposition, like “as a linguist, blah blah blah.” They’re talking about the first one. “As you write this word, poke out your eyes.” That’s literally the example they gave. First of all, that’s a totally fine use of “as” but they think you should use “because” instead.

Megan Figueroa

Oh ok.

Carrie Gillon

But that doesn’t make sense. “Because you write this word, poke out your eyes.” No. That means something different. Ask a linguist!

Megan Figueroa

Yes #AskALinguist. I feel like anyone listening should totally tweet at us words that they heard people hate that make no sense, cuz I’m so interested in this.

Carrie Gillon

Yes. Me too. And the same words keep coming up again and again. “Just” came up. There’s obviously things that trigger people.

Megan Figueroa

And they’re reinforced in our English classes and in public school. Not just public school, all schools.

Carrie Gillon

Yeah school.

Megan Figueroa

School.

Carrie Gillon

Alright, unless there are any other words you wanted to discuss?

Megan Figueroa

Ahh… I don’t think so.

Carrie Gillon

Ok. Me either. Alright. that was us nerd-raging on lists of words you’re not allowed to use anymore. And don’t forget: don’t be an asshole!

Megan Figueroa

Do not be a fucking asshole. Do not be an asshole and use whatever words you want to use that aren’t harmful to other people. Alright bye

Carrie Gillon

Bye

Carrie Gillon

The Vocal Fries podcast is produced by Chris Ayers for Halftone Audio. Theme Music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @vocalfriespod, you can email us at vocalfriespod@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s