Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Impeccable (ampeckobleh) is Sweet !

Add to Google Reader or Homepage« Impeccable » seems to be the “hot” new way for shop owners to acknowledge when you pay the bill. I don’t hear it as often as “merci,” but I hear it a lot.

·   Give the person exact change and s/he says: “impeccable.”
·   Pay by check and the clerk says: “impeccable.”
·   Offer a credit card and I hear: “impeccable.”

Last year, it seemed that “pas de problème” was the hot expression – both in France and as well as its American counterpart “no problem!” Unlike “pas de problème,”impeccable” does not have a perfect mirror reflection in English. I don’t often use impeccable in normal conversation and I don’t think it will become as popular in English as it has in French. When English speakers use it, it seems to be used in a very literal sense of “perfect” or “faultless.” I suppose “perfect” or “faultless” could apply to a small financial transaction but it doesn’t seem quite right. I want my taste to be impeccable (not much chance of that!) not the action of handing someone cash.

I realize that I am putting myself squarely in the OF (old fart) camp by commenting on language usage changes.

Impeccable and “pas de problème” will never match the current popular US response among 20-somethings who use “sweet!” as a response to most sentences. We had an exchange with a young person who texted (don't get me started on nouns becoming verbs!) us and could have written “I understand” or “okay” as an appropriate response but instead we read “sweet” in all of its syrupy splendor.

A while ago, I apologized for an error I made in French and the person with whom I was speaking suggested that my error would have gone unnoticed if I had been speaking with a teen because the teens of today no longer use proper French when they talk. He went on to complain about cell phones and text messages and how these phenomena were going to destroy proper language. As he continued to rail about the deterioration of language, I realized that I had heard these complaints before except they were in English! Even more, I realized that I had heard these predictions about language 50-60 years ago. The difference was that you had to replace “text messaging” with “rock and roll.” “and the beat(ing) goes on…” to paraphrase Sonny and Cher.

Generations have worried about the demise of language/culture/(insert your word here) based on the habits of those who are younger, yet every younger  generation seems to push the envelope until its shape is unrecognizable and they take us to places with discoveries and inventions we never dreamed possible.