Saturday, September 02, 2006

Banality of "Cool" Repetition

I have been neglecting this blog and I know it. But it’s been a kind of passive neglect. I have not been beating this blog like a red-headed step child. (I know that’s a tired simile, but I am unrepentant. I am just happy to be posting.) I have not even been beating this blog like a fat kid caught stealing lunches.

Rather than bore you with the air-tight reasons for my absence, I’d like to launch a topic that’s been bothering me. I guess you could call it the banality of repetition.

I’ve gone on the record here decrying the systemic abuse of words like “nice”—words that are used with such knee-jerk frequency as to lose any specified meaning. This isn’t mere hypothesis. This is fact. So why do I find myself saying “nice” in a variety of settings?

“Nice work.”
“Nice shot.”
“Nice comeback.”

I know why I do it. But the rationale doesn’t make me feel any better. At every turn these days, we’re confronted with situations and explanations that require a mild superlative in response. Such adjectives are called for with such frequency that the very consistency of their use reduces them to piles of grey, tasteless hash, linguistically.

That’s why I say “Nice” instead of “Superlative” or “Beatific.”

I figure I may as well sacrifice a word that has already been denuded of profundity, rather than lead a really costly heifer to the alter of common usage.

What do all you nice wordsters make of this problem?