Words to Never Say, Part One

We’re going to spend a few weeks on words that should never, ever come out of our mouths, or only in specific and precise contexts. Why? Re-read the subtitle to this blog.

Sometimes these words and expressions shouldn’t be spoken simply because they are inaccurate. Other times, we should refrain from using these words because they are a reflection of the growing disintegration of our society and culture. (Would that I were joking!). We don’t want to help that trend along.

Our first candidates for elimination from our vocabulary are kinda and sorta. Now I know that I’ve misspelled them. But I hope that by doing so, we’ll be reminded that this spelling simply reflects the sloppiness of speech that has brought these two “words” into such common use.

Once upon a time, “kind of “ and “sort of” were used sparingly and accurately, when they were employed to grant a hint of moderation or approximation into a phrase. An example would be: “That strange action was kind of sweet.” Or “She is kind of new to this company.”

The hesitation associated with this works well when describing some situations. But it dilutes our speech when we use it as it is more commonly being used these days.

I often listen to a podcast where the main speaker says “kinda” and “sorta” a great deal. Examples: “How did you kinda of begin your research on this time in history?” “Kinda begin”? Really!? “Tell me when you sorta got together with this director.” My head hurts. The person began and met—direct and simple (and accurate). It’s nearly as absurd as saying that someone “kinda came in first.”

It’s kinda, sorta as if we were afraid of being straightforward, clean, direct, and precise—which I believe is the reason behind this usage. Listen for it. You’ll find it everywhere. It’s common, but so are colds.

Just try to excise these two expressions from your speech for a week. You’ll realize 1) you didn’t really need them after all, and 2) your speech will grow stronger and more muscular by the day.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this experiment.

Next week: Just one word that, God help us, has to go!

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