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Our increasingly annoying, illogical vocabulary

| Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Twitter signage is draped on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in connection with Twitter's initial public offering of stock under the ticker symbol 'TWTR.' (AP Photo | Mark Lennihan)
Twitter signage is draped on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in connection with Twitter's initial public offering of stock under the ticker symbol 'TWTR.' (AP Photo | Mark Lennihan)

I can't help but notice how words have become more annoying and illogical.

“Closure,” for instance, has become a popular term among TV journalists sticking cameras and microphones in the faces of grief-stricken interviewees: “We hope there's closure for you, now that it appears that the authorities might have found the DNA of your daughter's killer at the crime scene.”

I liked “tweet” better when it referred to a chickadee's chirp, not a message from the commander in chief of U.S. armed forces announcing another war's potential onset.

There's now regular use of “irregardless,” meaning the same thing as “regardless” but with a superfluous negative prefix.

Silly is “selfie,” referring to a photograph taken of oneself, usually by a millennial, typically with a smartphone, for sharing via social media.

Myself, I like non-social media and “dumb” phones, plus “dumb” radios, simple TV controls and straightforward one-step automotive dashboards minus Bluetooth, Siri-like voices, iPhone contacts, a galaxy of buttons, options, dials and menus, and a 130-page manual.

Employing a bit of common sense, a warning that comes up on the dashboard of my newfangled car says I might be killed if I spend too much time figuring out how to operate the dashboard while driving.

The answer, I suppose, is to have computers drive cars while we just sit inside, texting and checking Facebook, like how people walking together now “talk” to each other via texting.

In any case, there's no clear definition of millennials' characteristics and ages, except that they like craft beers more than golf and are constantly on their cellphones.

Newsweek defined millennials as being born from 1977 through 1994. The New York Times put it between 1976 and 1990. Time magazine said between 1986 and 2000.

In earlier times, “millennial” denoted something having to do with a period of a thousand years.

Some self-assured Urban Dictionary wordsmiths say millennials have the attention span of a gerbil and require constant stimulation, or that they're job-hoppers with excessive expectations because they didn't play outside enough when they were kids.

And — just sayin' — “it is what it is” doesn't display much articulateness.

The same goes for “just sayin'” and “take a knee.”

Space limitations prevent a full discussion here of the current quarrels about NFL players, free-expression rights, protests as American as apple pie, race and policing — except to point out the contrast between the national-anthem protests started by still-unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he was with the San Francisco 49ers and his wearing of tyrant-promoting shirts depicting Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

Castro's ruthless suppression and draconian rule produced a police state that barred genuine elections, imprisoned critics, harassed activists, muzzled the press and enfeebled the judiciary.

As has reported, Cuba's communist regime murdered an estimated 73,000 people after dictator Fidel seized power.

Ralph R. Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (

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