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Are We Speaking The Same Language?

Oct 12, 2007
When I was a child, I was told more than once to watch my language; but adults should watch what they say too. For example, it annoys me when someone says they gave 110%. Then my 100% effort doesn't seem good enough.

How many times have you heard someone say a picture's worth a thousand words? Have you ever seen a picture worth a thousand words? "That's a good one", "That's a beautiful picture", "Did you take that?", "Please delete that" - I've never seen a picture worth more than four words in any language.

I've seen lots of politicians, however, who get high on hyperbole. When they're running for office, their opponents are know-nothings who do nothing except take money from special interests. After the primaries it's amazing how much theses politicians suddenly have in common - like how awful they think the candidates from the other parties are. In politics it's always high time for hyperbole.

Then there's advertising. It raises hyperbole higher. Advertising fills our language with "est" - newest, biggest, fastest, prettiest. If it doesn't end in est, it's not good enough.

Every cowboy movie has a character who says he's the fastest gun in the West - until he's proved dead wrong. Ringling Bros. Circus was known as the greatest show on earth. With lions jumping through fiery hoops in one ring, elephants standing on stools in another ring and tightrope walkers performing overhead, maybe it was. For me the greatest show on earth was seeing a man walk on the moon.

What building is the world's tallest depends on whether the antenna on top is included in the measurement. The man who claims he's the world's oldest person might be wrong, but he wants his claim to live on.

When my husband and I were in Alaska, we tried scones advertised as the world's best. Actually, the doughy, tasteless lumps were the worst scones we'd ever tasted. In New York City we saw a sign for the world's best Italian food. We didn't try it because we thought the world's best Italian food was probably somewhere in Italy.

The fastest growing city in the world is supposedly Dubai, but is it the fastest growing city because more people are moving there or because more people are born there? If it's because more people are being born there, maybe Dubaians should get out and see more of the world.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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