02 February 2010

Could we please stop "going forward"

Every once in a while yet another obnoxious word or phrase pops up, seemingly out of nowhere, and attaches itself like a leech to everyday discourse. A few years ago what might be the ugliest word in the English language, "exacerbate," was showing up everywhere. What the writer usually meant was "aggravate," a word quite satisfying to the senses.

More recently, we have become plagued by the nonsensical phrase "going forward." In last Saturday's Globe, Michael Ignatieff was quoted as saying, in reference to brain disease, "This is a central health challenge facing our country going forward." The phrase is of course completely redundant. (Could there be a challenge going backward?) What he means to say is: "This is a central health challenge facing the country" ... period, full stop, 'nuf said.

On the Jon Stewart show last week, his guest Elizabeth Warren, bailout watchdog for the Obama administration, marred a lively and passionate interview with her incessant "going forward." Warren and Ignatieff are bright, articulate people, they should be setting an example for the rest of us with their command of the language, not relying on crutches.

But that seems to be the nature of these infectious phrases. They tend to afflict the professional talkers more than the amateurs, as contrary as H1N1. Unfortunately, there seems to be neither preventative nor cure.

1 comment:

  1. "Impact", "impacting", "impacted" et cetera are my pet peeve words. Whatever happened to "affect" et cetera?