People who think they're educated.

I was actually thinking of starting a thread like this before but never bothered to do it. Then I see it again. What is ‘it’?

People who think that by using unecessarily ‘cultured’ language they will show how educated they are.

Now, usually when you call someone ‘sir’ you are trying to show that even though you disagree with them you are trying to be reasonable and civilised. So how can you call someone ‘sir’ and then call them an assohle in the same sentence? What’s the point?

There are people who write completely casually, and then, when they get angry start sounding like a cop on one of those FOX “Caught on Tape” shows. (You know the type. It’s never ‘a car that was going fast’ it’s ‘a vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed’.)

Calling people sir is just one example, but there are many others. When someone wants to show their righteous indignation they’ll start refering to people as individuals.

Individuals might not be a difficult word but how often do you really use it in day-to-day conversation? Why is that everyone who wants to show how morally uplifted they are suddenly starts referring to everyone as an individual?

It’s not “that guy who blew the giraffe is a heathen scum”, it’s “that INDIVIDUAL who molested the giraffe”. Oooh… suddenly your argument is so much more compelling because you’ve shown the vocabulary of a high school grad?

What is the point of all this? Are these people trying to distance themselves away from the argument? Like “it’s the other guy who’s stooping to this level of name-calling, I’m too good for it”. Yeah, it’s not a real flame because it’s prefixed by ‘sir’.

If you want to have a contest on who is the most eloquent, start a thread in MPSIMS about it.

What’s next? “I pricketh thee with the razor-sharp rapier of moral superiority!”

That’s nice. You can speak English. So can I, and probably better than you. If you’re going to go with pointless name-calling, drop the pretensions and say “Go felch yourself, ya flaming ass-lizard!”.

Whenever I see the use of “sir” in this context, I always think of Southern gentlemen challaging one another to a duel.

Just a WAG, but I get the feeling that the term is used whimsically , in a kind of role playing sense.

I’m sure that if it was possible, you’d have some posters reaching through their monitors to slap their opponents in the face with a glove (among other things).

Overall, I agree with you about the pretensiousness of getting wordy when you insult someone. I prefer “Gobble my crank”, or simply “bite me”.

Hope this answer wasn’t too “wordy” :wink:

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

You’re not going the get any arguuments here, Konrad. When you’re right, you’re right.

I 'll even bet that some people who are guilty of this practice are going to agree with you.

This space for rent.

Perhaps I am guilty of this practice, but I tend to respect people that are not using slang more than those who do use slang, especially if they are serving as some type of professional who should know several terms specific to their area of expertise. Now controvert ipse dixit instantaneously, you impolitic congenital idiot utterly lacking in pulchritude. [Close-captioned for the sarcasm impaired]

You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.

–Lyndon B. Johnson

Guilty as charged, yer honor.

I am guilty of both using them thar high-falootin’ 4-sylbul words, and of expressing myself in quaint colloquialisms…

But I enjoy the shadings of meaning that selecting the right word or phrase allows me to convey. One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens - “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning & the lightning bug.”

So flame away; I’m in El Paso & expect not to notice :wink:

Sue from El Paso

I say leave the Plain English movement for the people who need it most: lawyers.

We already have grammar police here, so why call in the style police as well?

Most people (I’m pretty sure I’m one of them, but I really don’t know, but I shall speak for them anyway) who would say something like “You, sir, are a complete and utter asshole,” are doing it for the contrast. It’s supposed to be humorous, get it? Nobody, I think, is trying to prove intellectual superiority. They’re just trying to make a joke. The difference between the above statement and “You’re an asshole,” should be obvious.
It’s really a question of style, or at least an attempt at style. Have you ever read 1984? If we eliminate excess words, so everybody simply says “You’re an asshole,” eventually we will eliminate 90% of all of our words, thereby sucking everything but the absolute meaning from language. This post, for instance, would be roughly 10-15 words long.

The IQ of a group is equal to the IQ of the dumbest member divided by the number of people in the group.

Perhaps I am guilty of what you say. Certainly I prefer standard written English to colloquialisms when communicating in text. Does this make me pretentious? shrug That is not something I worry about. I am educated, though certainly there are many on this board with more advanced degrees and more prestigious initials to place under their signatures. Yet another thing I do not worry about.

To me – the substance of a post is more important than the form. However, imprecision and sloppiness in language often indicates a similar manner of thought. If you can communicate effectively while sprinkling your text with slang and vulgarities, then more power to you. Such language can have an immediacy and vitality that makes it quite effective. If you resort to such language because without them you have nothing to say, then you gain nothing.

One more thing. I do not believe I have insulted anyone on this board to date, and I hope that I never stoop to do so. (Okay – there was that bit on the poetry thread, but that was in jest). If I were to single out the board practice I found most annoying, it would be the rapidity with which some participants resort to personal attacks. If I find a post objectionable or an idea offensive, I will attack the idea or challenge the words. If I make it personal, I lose more than the argument.

The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity

Oh yeaah, while I’m thinking of it.

Rousseau is a mono-lobed, hypocephalic, cranially protrusive bocephus.



The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity

Cool! Can I have your autograph?

Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.

-Tom Waits

If thou prickest me, do I not bleed? (or sumpin like dat)

Sir -
In a ubiquitously diverse community such as this, one may observe such a broad spectrum of language usage as to provide one with a rich panoply of styles that may serve to nourish whatever disposition one may be experiencing at any given time. Thus it is advantageous to the general population herein that the diversity of styles remain undiminished. One must consider the context in order to discern the manifest design of the original communication.

(Dif’rent strokes…etc. Chill, man)

Sheesh–just when I figured out what a quorum is, ya go and throw “panoply” at me…


Konrad, you had to know that this was going to happen… :slight_smile:

“Excrement. That is what I think of J. Evans Pritchard, PhD.” --Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

Chris’ Homepage: Domestic Bliss

Always reminds me of debates on CSPAN:

“Never before have I heard such idiotic drbbling and spewing of garbage by worm-riddled filth as I have from my esteemed colleague, the Honorable Senator from Virginia.”

Talk about pretense…


Your lack of appreciation for verbal refinement divests your invective of its character. One more mundane echo of these weary cliches leaves little worthy of remembrance. The simple indulgence of crude vituperation might satisfy the momentary heat of your disregard, but the true passion of lasting disdain must be set to words bearing insight, and acumen, to carry the venom of your distaste to your opponents heart. There let it lie, graven as in stone with the memorable rhetoric you have crafted for his despair. When you lack, wit, and humor in the expression of your displeasure your crudity is unremarkable, and its commonness renders it flavorless. Your common man characterization is pseudo democratic posturing and transparent self-flattery. Your repartee is feeble, and your syntax limps.


<p align=“center”>Tris</p>

Lay on, McDuff, and cursed be he who first cries out “Enough!”

And yet, what truly sours the taste of discourse and turns it rotten in my craw is the pathetic pedantry of a polysyllabic poseur who builds a tower of babble and then butchers the quotation.


The best lack all conviction
The worst are full of passionate intensity


I know this is in jest, mostly. But I sometimes encounter people, obviously not very educated people, who act like there is something wrong with me because I use the vocabulary I do. They think I am “puttin’ on airs”. I tell them, “Sorry, I am just speaking English…” (I hasten to add, and I am sure it will be no secret - my education is “average”. I make no claims to being sooo educated. But, damn - I’ve read a few books in my day. So sue me.) This is more about the people who have their knickers in a bunch over my use of English. Sometimes, it is simply because they can’t understand half the words I say. (But I know that will not be the case here on StraightDope! :))

When I am upset, sometimes my sentences just get longer and more verbose. Part of it is a definite sense of sarcasm. It is inherited—I come from a long line of sarcastic people. It is in the blood. I cannot control it.

For instance, a while ago I had a heated exchange with a boss of mine, who was trying to get me to do something that I felt was dangerous to my safety. (Too long a story to go into.) She was putting the guilt trip on me, and I was very upset and furious, but managing to not freak out on her. To clarify my feelings about the situation, I said “Unemployment would be an attractive alternative to (doing this dangerous thing!)” Oh, sure, I could have said “You’ll have to fire me first!” But don’t you think that the first sentence was better? (By the way, they aren’t making me do the dangerous thing at work. Because I meant it - unemployment would be an attractive alternative.)

Getting back to the original subject - sheesh - some people just express themselves that way. Usually it is has undertones of sarcasm.

Oh yeah? Well, nyaah!

Ya, ya, I’m all impressed. I should have the bunch of ya wise-asses decephelated.

Just to clear things up, since it seems some of you can’t read as well as you can write, (Ha. Dry humour. I refuse to use smiley-faces.) I wasn’t whining about people who write well. Just about people who THINK they write well and use ‘keywords’ to try to ‘win’ an argument with righteous indignation.

Rousseau: Nah it wasn’t joke. Take a look at the link:

Aha, interesting point about 1984. Unfortunately it implies that I am wrong. That would be impossible, and you may take this as a given from now on.

Quoth George Orwell (in Politics and the English Language):
“Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.”

And look! Look what I have found under ‘Pretentious Diction’!

“Words like phenomenon, element, individual (noun)… are used to dress up simple statements and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements.”

He specifically points out ‘individual’. So I’m not the only one who notices this. What I’m trying to say here is that 1984 is not just a compilation of “We Shouldn’t Do Things Like This”.

Ever hear of these words?

*condescending (adjective)

First appeared 1707

: showing or characterized by condescension : PATRONIZING

– condescendingly (adverb)


patronize (verb transitive) -ized; -iz*ing

First appeared 1589

1 : to act as patron of : provide aid or support for

** 2 : to adopt an air of condescension toward : treat haughtily or coolly**

3 : to be a frequent or regular customer or client of

– patronization (noun)

– patronizingly (adverb)

Please tell your pants it’s not polite to point.