It is gratifying when a person who appears to be a caricature of someone straight out of the 1860s (ie Jacob Rees-Mogg) publicises something that someone straight out of the 1760s (ie Fellbound) has been moaning about for years – the use of ridiculous or imprecise language and the abuse of grammar. I do not, incidentally, claim to be an expert on grammar. As a child of the 1960s I was not taught grammar in any formal sense apart from in Latin and Greek lessons. Thus, I make no claims to grammatical expertise, what with English speakers not being Romans or Ancient Greeks.
But Mogg has a point, in that some stuff we hear or read is, bluntly, absurd. Having undertaken an extensive and rigorous analysis that took me in excess of twenty minutes I believe that many backpacking writers, bloggers and vloggers (what a horrid word) are guilty and I now set out just some of the words and phrases which, and I’ll put this as delicately as I can, boil my piss:
1. Rocking (or worse “rockin”) as in “what trail shoes are you rocking these days?”, or “I’m rocking the Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack on this year’s TGO Challenge”. Can’t these people just wear or own things? I am, incidentally, rocking the GG Mariposa on most of my hikes.
2. Dialled. I have no idea what this word means if used about anything other than a telephone made before about 1980. People seem to say or write things such as “I have dialled my gear down”. Look. Just stop it. Please.
3. My go to. As in “my go to shelter/pack/boots/trekking poles/whatever”. I just have a “usual” or “favourite”. But then I’m an old fart.
4. Any discussion about the definitions of what constitutes “lightweight”, “ultralight”, “super-ultralight”, what should be included in “base weight” or anything vaguely connected with these concepts. It’s subjective you wallies! Would you have a discussion about, say, the height someone should be before they can be described as “tall” or “short”? No you wouldn’t. Not unless you were a complete moron. Or a student of philosophy. Or both.
5. “Comfortability”. I recently heard an American say that his new backpacking pillow had greatly increased his comfortability. Honestly. And no, George W Bush has not started backpacking.
That’s backpacking. Now I’ve started I may as well have a rant about this stuff in the wider world.
1. Forward planning. What’s that all about? Can planning be about anything other than what will happen in the future? Is the word “forward” necessary? Or perhaps people who use this term believe they are dealing with people who think that they might be planning for events that are now in the past?
2. Existential. No-one, but no-one, except the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, knows what that word means. It is now used daily by politicians, journalists and commentators eg “an existential threat”. It’s just “a threat” you idiots. Adding superfluous words to make you sound clever does not make you clever. Nor does it impress people who are clever.
3. “Reaching out”. As in “we are reaching out to our customers”. Well I will tell you what I reach out for. The sick bucket whenever I hear or read this fatuous phrase.
4. “Can I get a….?”. As used in Starbucks, Costa and all the large commercial coffee houses. “Can I get a flat white?” The correct response from the server should be “I’m sorry, no. Health and Safety rules would not allow you behind the counter, but I’ll happily make one for you and put it in the eco-friendly mug made out of yak skin that you have thoughtfully brought with you. Long live the polar bears.”
5. “This does not represent who I am or the values I hold”. Another sick bucket inducing phrase. It is used by people (politicians, business men and women, footballers, Hollywood stars and their ilk) caught with their trousers down, making racist abuse, recorded making injudicious comments to friends, using the office computers for porn, or making a Nazi salute. In my case I need to explain that my dog Moss is somewhat deaf these days and he responds to hand signals. My signal for stop and wait does, indeed, look rather like a Nazi salute. Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
Actually matey, what you did does indeed represent who you are. Be honest about it. We’re all human. We all err. We have all said and done things that we should not have done. The important thing is to be honest about our actions, not just to ourselves but also to any others affected, to know what is right and wrong and to try to improve our behaviours in the future.
Now go on. You know you want to. If you are as curmudgeonly as me please leave a comment giving further examples of idiocy. And do not write “starting a sentence with the word ‘and’, you clot”. This was very acceptable in 1780.