I listen to news broadcasters all the time. I find several practices so annoying I turn off the broadcast. In recent years, certain words are over emphasized, have proliferated and are inappropriately used to the point that they lack credibility.
Take "disaster." Reporters apply this word for everything from a tsunami wiping out a country to a fire in an empty building that causes some traffic disruption on local streets. Certainly a natural event, be it a tsunami, a tornado or a blizzard. is a disaster because so many people are affected. I have no problem with that usage, but when the same breathless intonation and use of the same word for something as minor as a small fire or a traffic accident is called a "disaster," I stop listening. Can't we keep dramatic words for real dramatic events? (Oh heck, I just broke a nail. Now, that's a disaster.)
"Good" used to be good enough. If something was "good," you had an idea of what the speaker or writer meant. Now, you have to use "great," "fantastic," "rad," and any other superlative to express "good." I don't mind exaggeration in common speech, but get really real, broadcasters. Not everything is great or fantastic. Let's get some balance in your reporting. I mean, today I had a really fantastic cup of coffee. Actually, it was rich, a bit bitter, hot and tasty. Was it fantastic? No, it was simply good.
Some words have twins. "I really really had a great time." Really? Two reallys? Are they really really needed? I used to use "I had a nice time" to let a guy know I was bored out of my mind on a date and not to call again. Most of the time, one really is enough.
Do you remember when one "very" was enough? Now, this word has a twin. It should be written very-very or veryvery because one is never enough.
Can we all get together and return speech to a level where words really have meaning? Where we don't deliver every message with hyperbole and gush? Where we back off on twin words? Where we use exaggeration to its fullest effect and only when needed?
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She lives for words and writing.