Annoying use of language in SEO and beyond

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

One of Cre8asite Forum’s most respected administrators, Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea, recently posted a thread based upon the fact that he’s noticed many people in the SEO community talking about ‘sending signals to the SEs’, of late.

He begins the post by remarking that at the recent SES in San Jose, he noted the frequent use of ‘so’ as a prefix to people’s statements, as in:

“So, if you think about…”

“So, if we were to….”

“So, you have this…”

Bill’s thread was then noticed by Animas Web Blog, where the author adds that the constant use of ‘right?’ as a suffix to sentences really gets their goat as it leads to confusion as to whether the speaker is making a statement or simply offering a rhetorical question.

As a lifelong student of philology and etymology, I want to add an emphatic ‘mmm hmm!’ to both of the above posts. I would like to add that I have long remarked modern man’s reticence to make decisive, declarative statements on practically any subject. One need only look at the prevalence of young people’s use of “or whatever” to witness this phenomenon in full force.

If asked how they feel about their mother or father, a youth is apt to reply,

“Oh, I guess I love them, or whatever.”

I would hazard to assert that it is a Darwinistic fear of being the weak animal in the herd
that the hungry lion will notice and eat that makes humans unwilling to stick out their necks
and state how they truly feel about something. It isn’t only teenagers who are afraid of being
laughed at by their peers. Yesterday’s kids have grown up into today’s adults, many of whom seem wholly unprepared to commit themselves to a set opinion, belief or code lest they say the ‘wrong’ thing. What a shame! Perhaps the scourge of political correctness is at the root of this, and though its aim may have been to prevent people from making bigoted statements in public, if it has resulted in the dishwater English we are forced to endure every day – the rights, sos and whatevers – then I have no good opinion of it.

Take a moment to think about the rampant use of ‘like’. As in:

“I was, like, sitting in a chair…”

No, you weren’t ‘like’ sitting in a chair! You were ACTUALLY sitting in a chair!

Somewhere, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are sitting in a parlour in heaven together, weeping.

2 Responses to “Annoying use of language in SEO and beyond”

  1. on 25 Aug 2006 at 7:19 am joedolson

    Very good points, Miriam! This use (or non-use, perhaps) of language is an interesting modern phenomenon. Although it’s not possible to really know what tendencies “street kids” of the 19th century had in their day-to-day speech, judging from period literature this casual use of ambiguous statements was not that common.

    Poor Jane and Charles…

  2. on 25 Aug 2006 at 7:54 pm info

    Thanks, Joe!
    Kind of you to stop by. That’s an interesting point you bring up. I am currently re-reading one of Louisa May Alcott’s novels (for the 10th time) and it strikes me that she was attempting to make the children in her books sound more lifelike by use of the words ‘ain’t’, etc. Jane Austen frequently uses slighly improper grammar in order to show that a character is young, silly, overly fashionable, or of less than high birth. And, of course, when Mark Twain published his most famous work, America was scandalized by the ‘low’ English he used.

    Thank you for contributing.
    Kind Regards,

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