Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Banned Words and Phrases Play On

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12. “hehe” for “hee hee.” “Hee hee” has been a written representation of “If you could hear me, I’d be laughing” for some time (I’ll check the OED; I bet it’s centuries). You’re only saving two letters this way and it looks like the word “he” twice. What’s next, “sheshe” for goddess types?
13. “Let’s see, I need the tuna on whole wheat.” There are also available phrases for this, e.e. “I’d like…” and “May I have…?” You need a blood transfusion, or a scalpel, or a new hed and dek pronto because it’s press day. You might even need a drink or a slap in the face or a pinch. You probably don’t need a sandwich. Be nice to the poor deli people; all they hear all day is how much people need that thing, right now, hurry it up, I’m busy and important (and rude).
14. “Moreso” is not a word. It is two words: “more so.” If you’d like to be convinced further, since you have trust issues, here’s the Word Detective on the matter:
Dear Evan: Is “moreso” a word? I can’t find it in my dictionaries; my spell-checker doesn’t like it, but I’ve been reading and hearing it everywhere recently. Two examples from the one page of the sports section: ” … and he is confident the ‘96 Braves, moreso than the ‘72 Braves will embrace a teenager.” “Shrouded this time by closer Mark Wohlers’ franchise-record 31st save moreso than John Smoltz’s seamless season, ….” —R. Duvall, via the Internet.
Your spell checker is not alone. I not only don’t like “moreso,” I don’t understand why anyone would write that way. If you had supplied only one example, I’d have said that it was almost certainly a typographical error, but if “moreso” is truly suddenly commonplace, I am deeply alarmed. Mutant words seem to be springing up in the sports section.
I should call a time-out at this point and mention that I am absolutely, utterly sports-illiterate, and have never read the sports section of any newspaper. Ever. Really. True, I did manage the baseball, hockey and soccer teams in high school, but my duties in each case had only a marginal relationship to the particular sport per se. My primary duty to the soccer team, for instance, seemed to be to warn our coach if I spotted the Headmaster coming, so he would have time to put away his flask. My role in the grand scheme of the hockey team, on the other hand, consisted largely of driving newly-toothless players to the Emergency Room. I became awesomely proficient in filling out hospital forms and calming distraught parents.
But I digress. You say that you have been reading and hearing “moreso” everywhere. Hearing it doesn’t bother me — after all, “more so” (two words) is a perfectly respectable construction meaning “to a greater extent than.” Radio and television “sportscasters” slurring the two words together doesn’t surprise me. Sportswriters jamming “more” and “so” together into one word repeatedly in print, however, is a bad idea. What about its opposite construction, “less so”? Are we now to glop these together into “lesso”? Soon we’ll be facing “inorderto” and “inspiteof,” not to mention “nottomention.” Welcome to Mars. Somebody hand me that flask.

Banned words and phrases 7-11, 4-6, and 1-3.

comments are off


I hate “hehe”!!! Thank you for including that one! My current least-favorite phrase is “I’m out of pocket…” meaning not “I’m paying for things myself, not using a per diem” but “I’m out of the office.” When did this become standard usage? I hear that it’s a football metaphor, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

I love this feature. One usage that gets under my skin—and anecdotally seems to be on the rise—is the offering of “reticent” for “reluctant.” I have looked into this, and while it’s not technically wrong to do so according to either American Heritage or Merriam-Webster, it does tend to smudge the specifity of the former’s useful reference to taciturnity or verbal shyness. If you mean reluctant, then say reluctant.

I use “hehe” and “heheh” for specific reasons: “hehe,” the way I read it, contains a shorter vowel sound than “hee hee”, which sounds really twee, like a little mouse laughing. And I use “heheh” when I want to convey the more dry, “heh heh” sound. It’s not a twee sound at all, and connotes a certain cynical laughter. Maybe I should separate each “heh,” but it’s easier to type, and I don’t mind that one has to wait till the end to know which sound is being expressed. After all, in many languages you have to wait for the last word of the sentence to know who the subject of the action is.
But I like “moreso.” If there’s nothing wrong with “moreover” or “heretofore,” why not “moreso”? I’m all for composite words! (Perhaps it’s the German in me? Calling Anna Blumenstein!) I’m also a big fan of the nonexistent (except in my own emails) “eachother,” which seems to indicate the kind of interdependence implied by the word better than “each other,” which makes me imagine opposing sides, rather than cooperating sides.

Moreso? Isn’t that some kind of mexican sauce or musical instrument?
- But I do like eachother- works for me.
Do people really say heretofore nowadays? (hehe)
I prefer hehe to heehee because the latter sounds to me like a donkey braying- (do donkey’s bray? Now I’ve got to go look that up).

In California, we hear a lot of “let me get a tuna sandwich…” in place of “I would like…” or “may I have…”
Back in the Eighties when I was a waiter in L.A., I would sometimes hear “I’ll do the tuna sandwich…”

Christopher NortonJanuary 09, 2007

That’s really funny, Christopher!
It reminds me of a story a waiter friend told me about working at Smith & Wollensky in the ’80s, and some fatcat bigwig type ordered an ice cream sandwich, which, for some reason, the high-end steak restaurant didn’t have, and he gives him the bad news. The guy insists: “I want the ice cream sandwich! There’s a hundred-dollar tip in it for you, kid.” So the waiter’s freaking out in the kitchen with indecision in the kitchen, and finally takes a chance and runs out the back door to a deli a few blocks away, grabs an ice cream sandwich, and delivers it to the Master of the Universe. Who slaps the hundred into his hand as promised. Ah, the good old days!

Almost as bad as “let me get” is “can I get.” It’s now pretty much standard, but it still rings wrong for me.

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