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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Your "Bad" Is Your Language, Honey

A friend of mine overheard her daughter talking on the phone recently. At one point in the conversation, the 21-year-old daughter, who was speaking to a potential employer, said "Oh, my bad." My friend nearly keeled over.

There are so many expressions that drive me crazy, two of the most offensive to my sensitive ears being awesome and amazing because it seems like EVERYTHING now is either awesome or amazing, from the Grand Canyon (which actually is both awesome and amazing) to a stick of gum (which is neither). It's quite possible, though, that "my bad" has replaced the two A-words in making my eyeballs jitter out of their sockets.

For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past decade, "my bad" means "I'm to blame," or "my mistake," a modern version of the Latin mea culpa. Interested in the expression's origin, I was surprised to learn "my bad" popped up in the culture's vernacular in 1970 as a street term, urban lingo used during informal basketball games after making a bad pass. The movie "Clueless" pushed the term into our everyday world in the mid-1990s when Alicia Silverstone uttered it while, in character, she was learning to drive. A few sources suggest that street lingo, which pre-Internet stayed in the street, now spreads virus-like into mainstream culture. Personally, I wish "my bad" had stayed put with the basketball players. Every time I hear it the enamel peels off my teeth, maybe because unlike awesome and amazing -- which are actual words that at least make sense -- "my bad" sounds like something a toddler might say after peeing its pants. Whoopi Goldberg said it recently on The View and I had to change the channel. As for my friend's daughter: if I'd been the potential employer and heard a twenty-something say my bad in a phone interview, I can guarantee I'd have hung up and turned to the next job candidate.

I have a secret desire to try to torture the young by using their own expressions as much as possible every day, all day, day and night. I want to tell them their hair is awesome and their shoes are awesome and their jewelry is awesome and their car is amazing and their make-up is amazing and their dog is amazing and oh, my bad when I finally crack like Kathy Bates in "Fried Green Tomatoes" and bang my car into theirs when they don't even notice that the English language is spiraling down the drain.


Feck it. said...

"Evolution is bad" hysteria. "Everything must remain the same. All extinction is a tragedy. All invention is a curse."

Kathleen Yasas said...

Dear Feck it: Excuse me?

Feck it. said...

That's great, that's cool, that's hip, that's huge, that's heavy? That's neat? That's groovy? But that's awesome? No. That's brutal. That's unbearable. That's gnarly. Get your head out the sand momma. Your bad.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Hmm. Maybe you're right. Okay, head is out of the sand. My bad. Love, Momma.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum