Beyond the depressing news from Britain (and Matthew has promised to write us a daily summary during the “troubles”), there’s not much I feel compelled to write about today. So let’s return to a favorite curmudgeonly pastime: describing words and phrases that rankle us. I have three today:
A.) “This. Just this.” This phrase is used to agree with or emphasize some statement or sentiment. (Sometimes it’s just the single sentence “This.”) The word is the verbal equivalent of an emoticon: a cheap and not particularly appealing way to express assent. For some reason it seems widely used by Social Justice Warriors (and I am referring to the offense-brigade type) to align them selves with a group that is distancing itself from others.
B.) “because why not” or “because. . “ I don’t like this because it’s ungrammatical, and that alone is enough to rile me. I’ll give an example: “Why did you eat your hamburger but leave the bun?” “Because carbohydrates.” And that’s one of the less disturbing examples. An article at Sentence First goes into more detail on why and how “because” has become a preposition, including this:
‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar
If the title of this post made perfect sense to you, then you’re way ahead of me. But just in case, we’d best recap. Neal Whitman wrote a good article at Grammar Girl recently on the possible origins of because as a standalone preposition. This helpful passage from Whitman sets out the context:
In Standard English, the word “because” can be used two ways. One of them is to introduce a clause, as in “Aardvark was late because he was waiting for the repairman to show up.” Used this way, “because” is a subordinating conjunction. The other is to team up with “of” to form what’s called a compound preposition. For example, “Aardvark was late because of heavy traffic.” In the past three or four years, though, a new usage for “because” has been developing.
The new usage – older than 3–4 years, mind – is what Laura Bailey and Mark Liberman, respectively, have referred to as “because+noun” and “because NOUN”. Liberman says the idiom usually seems to imply “that the referenced line of reasoning is weak”. Sometimes, yes, but it’s also commonly used just for convenience, or effect: No work tomorrow because holidays!; Of course evolution is true, because science.
Because X is fashionably slangy at the moment, diffusing rapidly across communities. It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone. Because time-strapped. Maybe the causal factor is so obvious as to need no elaboration, or the speaker is distracted or giddy, or online and eager to save effort and move on, or maybe the construction appeals for undefined aesthetic or social reasons.
Anything that’s “fashionably slangy” is suspect from the outset! (Which reminds me: “outset” is not the same as “onset”, yet many people use the latter when they mean the former.)
C.) “Impactful.” There is no use for this word. “Meaningful,” “consequential”, “important”, “effective”, or, best of all, “influential.” With all of those words, there’s no need for the clumsy and bothersome “impactful”. But of course HuffPost loves it:
You know the drill: go ahead and rant: