It’s called the”Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon”. Perhaps you’ve never heard this term, but I bet you’ve experienced it. Suppose you’re in the market for a new car, and your heart is set on a blue Audi. You work up the nerve to go test drive one. It’s everything you dreamed about, except the price. So, you decide to think about it and somehow escape from the dealership with your wallet and marriage intact.
On the way home you pass four other blue Audis (44, if you live in Atlanta and not South Carolina), like the one you drove minutes earlier. What? Where did all those come from? They weren’t there before! Yes, they were; you’re just now tuned into blue Audis. That’s the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.”
I’m hoping to use this phenomenon on you as I start a personal campaign against a bad word. The world uses this word way too much these days, mostly as a verb, and, ultimately, as a substitute for better English.
I’m not talking about a Bostonian’s favorite “F” word that serves as an adjective, an adverb, and a noun. I’m talking about the next letter in the alphabet; what I’ll call the “G” word: Get.
It’s the worst. Here’s the definition from Dictionary.com:
Get: verb (used with object), got or got·ten; get·ting
to receive or come to have possession, use, or enjoyment of: to get a birthday present; to get a pension.
to cause to be in one’s possession or succeed in having available for one’s use or enjoyment; obtain; acquire: to get a good price after bargaining; to get oil by drilling; to get information.
Seems innocent enough, but I contend the use of this word is lazy and inefficient.
Here’s what I mean:
Lazy is a national weatherman saying “The storm is getting itself together” instead of saying “The storm is intensifying”. He didn’t want to think of a better, more descriptive word. This is also a good example of inefficient. “Getting itself together” is three words instead of one, “Intensifying.”
As I’ve kept an eye and ear out for use of the “G” word recently, I find it all over the place in the newspaper and news broadcasts. Baader-Meinhof in action.
I can almost forgive a newspaper reporter using the word if she’s trying to beat a story deadline, especially if it is time sensitive. However, the local and national news copywriters need to do a better job. They should have better command of the English language.
Tonight during NBC Nightly News alone, I caught three instances of “G” word use. Last night in the local news, they used “haven’t gotten”. I cringed and may have yelled at the television. Just say “haven’t received!”
I’m also willing to give a pass in normal conversations and, perhaps, even texting. However, I have vowed never to use this word again in my own writing, unless there is absolutely no better alternative.
As I have reviewed old blog writing for Throwback Thursday posts, I have found my own use of the “G” word. If I reused an old post with the “G” word, I rewrote it to remove the offending three letters. If you catch me using it going forward, call me out! Guess I should change the title of this post, huh? Last time, I promise.
Today, as you read and listen, be on the lookout for the “G” word. Hopefully, you’ll catch yourself thinking about better alternatives, and eventually start using them in your own speech and writing. Welcome to Baader-Meinhof.
Thanks for reading,
PS Am I the only bothered by this?
One Reply to “I Don’t Get It”
The Socially Distant Writer | Greg Fowler, Author says:
May 28, 2020 at 9:32 pm
[…] me more than my non-writer friends, and sometimes they irritate me more as well, especially ‘gotten‘. If the WIS news personalities say that one more time on the morning show, I may […]