The Official Site for David Freeman Coleman

The Official Site for David Freeman Coleman
a.k.a. Funkyman

Did He Ever Talk About . . . ?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Phrase Fail

In the English language, like any other, there are some words that have several meanings, and some phrases that can be interpreted different ways. However, what amuses me are the phrases that mean the exact opposite of what we intend. I call them PHRASE FAILS. Let me give you some examples.

"Excuse me" is supposed to be a request to be pardoned, but the way it bugs me is when people use it to respond to something offensive being said. Yes, I understand that people use "Excuse Me?" to ask for forgiveness because they couldn't have possibly heard the offensive comment just stated. "I'm sorry, I must have heard you incorrectly." However, people use that phrase over and over again even after it has clearly been confirmed that indeed, yes, an offensive comment was made.

Offensive Person: "You're fat."

FAIL Response: "Excuuuse me?"

OP: "I said you're fat, and you're ugly."


OP: "Listen to me, not only are you fat and ugly, but I don't like you."


You get my point.

Or, the ever popular variation - "I don't mean to be rude, but . . . " Whenever someone starts a sentence with this phrase, you are guaranteed to hear something not only disrespectful, but something a person KNOWS is disrespectful but figures that phrase will lighten the blow. My next PHRASE FAIL will highlight that . . .

When I was in high school, I had my first job working in engineering services at a hospital. I was assigned random jobs, but I shared an office space with two building/structure engineers. They were nice guys, and we got along well. One day they got so comfortable that there was a slip of the tongue discussing someone who led the labor union. "I can't stand that nigger." I didn't have to say anything as he fumbled on. "Oh, sorry David. I don't mean any disrespect. I'm not racist, but that guy is a nigger."

Hey a two-for-one PHRASE FAIL! BACK TO BACK!!!

The people who brought us this PHRASE FAIL also brought us, "I'm not homophobic, but . . .", "I'm not sexist, but . . .", and "I'm all for freedom of religion, but . . ." You are guaranteed that in most cases, whatever follows those phrases will represent the very thing they claim not to be.

I'll pause for a moment while I prepare to comment.

OK, ready.

WHAT DOES THIS PHRASE MEAN?????!!!!!! Black is black. Good is good. Up is up. Left is left. Earth is Earth. It is what it is? I hear this phrase used so much as a way to END conversations, but it never EXPLAINS anything. If you have light to shed on this, please feel free to comment. I myself don't understand, but hey, it is what it is. Doh!

Who invented this phrase? What in this world is ALL GOOD? And don't say God, because He's not an "It" so they're not referring to Him. People use this phrase usually to describe situations that are NOT all good.

"Yeah, I did some stupid stuff, hung out with the wrong crowd, ended up getting arrested a few times, got incarcerated and serving a 7-year term for Grand Larceny and I can't see my kids without court supervision - but IT'S ALL GOOD!"

Huh? Look, I understand the human need to rationalize and to be positive about your outlook on life. But the only way to turn from a negative situation is to acknowledge it for being a negative situation. That does not make it good. It means moving forward despite something negative happening to you, which is good. Make sure you are referring to your current state of mind, NOT the events of your past. The saying is "All things are WORKING for your good . . ." not "All things are good."

And with that, study hall is over, and thus so is this rant. Click and enjoy my tribute below to a man who used words very well, and inspired little David Coleman to grow up one day to become . . .

- Funkyman


Matt Enlow said...

I believe that most of the time, "It is what it is" is meant to be a recognition of the things we cannot change, and must accept.

Do you have a similar issue with "Que sera, sera"? ;-)

DavidColeman said...

Matt of course you are correct. I suppose I should have added that I have used every one of these phrases myself at some time in my life. I understand what that phrase means, but people often use it in the wrong context. "Hey I'm flunking out of school. Well it is what it is." No it's not - go and get a tutor. Probably would have written more but I don't have the hour long study hall like last year!

Sam Musher said...

I spent a lot of time on trains out west in August, and one one long haul a 10-year-old girl and her teenage brother made friends with me. Several times she said, "I don't mean to be rude, but..." and then followed it up with something awesome, like, "Do you believe in God?" She'd clearly been taught that it was rude to ask those sorts of questions, certainly of strange adults, but I don't actually think that's a rude question at all. I love discussing theology with 10-year-olds!

One of the few times I've heard that phrase put to good use. :)

DavidColeman said...

Thanks for the comment, Sam. Great story. I could see why one would teach a child to be cautious when discussing religion or politics. Sounds like she used the phrase correctly, and thank goodness she had you to talk with!

Anne St. Pierre said...

Amen! Love the phrase fail....all the time. We need to remember the power of words. You have a great way of getting the message out there. Thanks.