I pay a lot of attention to the ways people speak because words have always fascinated me. I continue to remember the day, nearly 20 years ago, when my father watched undergrads walking from downtown Athens onto the UGA campus and remarked, “There go the students entering into the portals of the university.” The turn of phrase has a certain sublimity. Not bad for a chemical engineer.

And just as some phrases are wonderful, some are less felicitous. I have noted the recent proliferation of people talking about “hand-carrying” things. For example, a gentleman on a radio commercial talked about how he had helped someone when he “hand-carried” the forms they filled out to the proper office.

I am waiting to see whether this way of speaking will catch on. Will we begin to hear about the time someone “mouth-drank” a bottle of water, “foot-walked” through the neighborhood, or “ear-listened” to a piece of music?

Impossible, you say? I thought the same thing a couple of decades back when I saw a couple of young guys wearing their pants about eight inches south of their waistlines.

Articles by Hunter Baker

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