Whatever happened to simple old ‘Yes’ and ‘No’?

As a pedant and a lexophile, I have been increasingly troubled lately by what I see as the sad disappearance of simple words like ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Especially in the world of business. And in these humble words’ place, a new proliferation of polysyllabic verbal effluvium seems to have taken over. All nonsense words. This therefore is a subject on which I am only too keen to rant.

Have you noticed, recently, that everything has to be ‘Absolutely!’ to indicate a response in the affirmative – instead of the plainer-sounding ‘yes’?

E.g. ‘Hello Margaret! Are you well today?’
Or, ‘Can we achieve all this in the space of a week?’
Or, ‘I think I need to take a holiday. Maybe next week…’

Do you do it? Are you afraid of sounding too plain?

Another one that gets my goat is this current fixation with the word ‘Perfect!’ as a euphemism for the much humbler sounding ‘OK’ or ‘That’s fine’. Are you guilty?

E.g. ‘I’ve sent you that document by email just now so it should be with you any second.’
‘Oh! Perfect!’
Or, ‘I’ll meet you at the plaza at 1pm then, Mark.’
‘Perfect! See you there!’

– When what they mean is anything BUT ‘perfect’. They mean, ‘Alright, that suits me.’ It’s not perfect. Perfect is something untarnished, something without soil, something divine, and you rarely know about it.

Another one used in place of simple, old-fashioned ‘yes’ is ‘Correct’ – or, even, ‘Cor-RECT!’ Why? Why the fixation with this odd, Magnus Magnusson-sounding catchphrase? Is it to sound more pompous or more ‘computer-like’ than the rest of us normal folk? To give the tone of your approval more gravitas?

E.g. ‘I think we need to speak to our suppliers first before we go any further.’
‘Correct.’ ‘Absolutely!’ ‘Perfect!’
Or, ‘I don’t think I need dress up too much tonight. We’re only going to the pub down the road after all.’

Correct? In the sense in which they use it (the computer-binary, affirmative/negative sense), ‘correct’ is the opposite in meaning of ‘incorrect’, and while it might not be a good idea to dress up to the nines just to go down your local pub, it can hardly be, technically speaking, INCORRECT. So this language is just nonsense. Do we WANT to sound like computers, or like people? Do we WANT to end up sounding like those imbecilic American science geeks in all the movies who go, ‘Negative, sir!’? Eh?

So let’s get rid of the sickly superlatives and the hyped-up hyperbole and stick to good old Yes ‘n’ No.


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