Thank goodness that among all the worrisome developments over the last several years inflation has not been one of them. Except, as we’ve noted elsewhere when it comes to language.
It’s mostly our young people who are leading the way here in redefining the boundaries. I have, for example, been struck lately how often in conversation the ordinary has been transformed into the extraordinary. Now it’s true that in the past we’ve employed such words like “incredible”, “wow” and “super” for situations not all that exceptional, but of late that tendency has somehow accelerated. The other day, when shopping for a computer with a younger friend, his response to my entirely middle-of-the-road choice was “fantastic”. In a restaurant recently I selected an entirely pedestrian dish which elicited an “awesome” from the waiter. Since when did meat loaf and mashed potatoes merit such enthusiasm?
Still, the most overused word now in vogue has to be “unbelievable”. Listen in on conversations – it is a recurring response; one that confirms the inflationary trend.
Will it impoverish our language? Not likely. What it will do is force us to summon forth new words that up the ante once the current terms lose their allure and appear insufficient.