I’ve discovered that I do “requests.” I’m sitting at a keyboard, so a stretch could put me sitting at a keyboard in a piano bar, right? So why not do requests? Ideas given freely should be utilized, I think, so when a friend emailed me about how fired up she is getting over people overusing the word “really,” I figured what’s the harm in looking into it? I hope she leaves me a tip.
There seems to be a lot of people who are incensed about the overuse of certain words. A simple search of “Do People Overuse The Word Really” on Google turned up 20,400,000 hits. I got to search page three. By then it was clear that there are a number of overused words, some defined as words that should be cut from prose all together. According to some, if really is in a sentence, it should be rewritten. For example: “I’m really writing this.” That sounds like I’m being totally defensive about who’s writing this piece. By the way, “totally” is obviously another word that should be lined through. “Really” adds nothing to this.
In Journalism 101 we would write a four or five paragraph article using some stated facts, and then edit what we had written down to one paragraph. It was really difficult to do. There I go again. Was it “really” difficult, or just difficult? Anyway, (there’s one I overuse a lot along with “so,” and “well.”) those of us who write kind of fall in love with the words we put on the page, as well as the order in which we put them, and we’re not really happy about seeing them go. Oh my god, there I go again.
But I think what my friend is saying, is that, at least in her part of the world, what is commonly referred to as New England or the Northeast, the word “really” is now being used like “like” was used by the Valley Girls of the 80s.
“And he was like, you know, seriously, and like, I wanted to, totally, like, and he’s like, no way.” And the other girl is..”like, I know.” Know what? It was worse than “um” and “uh” for krisakes. I remember walking behind a group of young girls in a mall once, a place I frequent less than once a year, and they never formed a complete sentence during their entire conversation, yet they seemed to be communicating somehow. Seriously? Really?
So, (see?) without really asking my friend what she was all fired up about with the use of the word really, her statement, “You get to the point where you would like to say to people really do you have to use the word really so much???” kind of sums it up.
What I noticed in my unofficial research is that people say “seriously” more than “really,” but sometimes together as in “You still like Madonna? Really? Seriously?” My research was done in my part of the world which is commonly referred to as the Southwest or the Land of Enchantment. Here it is often said as “realmente” or “en serio.” Bilingual with the help of a English/Spanish dictionary, you see.
How about “literally?” As in, “I mean that, literally.” Here’s some thesaurus entries for that word: actually, completely, correctly, direct, directly, faithfully, indisputably, letter by letter, literatim, not figuratively, plainly, precisely, really…what? Seriously? Really? Really is a synonym for literally? I use literally a lot. I use really a lot, but I’m not sure I use it when I’m talking.
I guess it’s now an epidemic in the east according to my friend, at least in the northeast, like around Boston. No really, I think people are really, using the word, really too much from what I’m told, really. So you should stop. That’s what I think. You’ll start to sound like Canadians that use “aye” at the end of every sentence. I found a poll online with 27 responses that shows Americans think Canadians say “aye” 9,000 times a day, but actually say it less than ten. I’m going with 9,000. They are ending every sentence with, basically, the word “right,” or the phrase “isn’t it.” “Cold up here today, aye.”
Well, (there I go again.) I hope I’ve done my part in pointing out something that is really bothering some of us, and warn you that this could really spread if we’re not careful. Wait, did you just say, “Really? Did you just say that, Seriously?”