oh, the irony

Although I ask people on this blog not to correct each other's spelling, usage and grammar, this is not to say that incorrect usage doesn't bother me. It does. Sometimes it drives me nuts.

Yet people who are very nitpicky about other people's grammar and usage also drive me nuts. I think we should all be more generous with each other, and that what's important is that we communicate, not that we communicate according to a specific set of rules.

Clearly these two modes of thought come into conflict.

And it's with that preface that I write this post, which is not aimed at anyone in particular, certainly not at anyone on this blog.

When it comes to language, the thing that drives me the nutsiest is the spread of fake words or meaningless expressions in the media. If you follow a sport, you see this all the time in the sports media. Words spread through interviews like wildfire cliches. One season everything will be prefaced with "obviously" or "and again...", whether or not it's obvious, whether or not the person is repeating him or herself. Another year it will be "Having said that...". Right now words are being turned into adverbs with abandon. "Relatedly", "admittedly" and "belatedly" are just a few that are making the rounds.

But here's my point, and I do have one.

Would everyone please stop calling everything IRONIC???

Every little coincidence is not ironic. Every time something happens that even vaguely resembles or contradicts something else, it cannot rightly be described as "ironically".

How's this for a sentence? I won't provide a link because I have no wish to embarrass anyone. In a history of First Nations people in Canada, I read, "...which happened ironically on September 11, 1883".

Can something that happened to native peoples in the Canada of 1883 be described as ironic? Because it occurred on a date that, 118 years later, would be famous for something else? That's at most a coincidence, but it's really not even that, as there's no connection between the two events.

Here's a coincidence. Two people meet in Chicago on September 11, 2012. It turns out they both lost partners in the World Trade Center attacks. They fall in love. Their meeting on September 11 is a coincidence. Their falling in love might correctly be described as ironic, although I don't think so. But September 11, 1883? There's nothing ironic there.

On the bus yesterday, I overheard this, "I'm telling you, she's out to get me. And it's so ironic, because I hate her too, but there's nothing I can do about it."

What is ironic about that?

For the next week or so, listen carefully to what you hear at work, on the street or on TV. When you read the newspaper, especially letters to the editor, keep an eye out for the word "ironically". See if what's being described is actually ironic.

That is all. Rant over.

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