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So, what was the inspiration for the irritating tendency for a certain generation to begin every sentence in an interview with a reporter, "So, thank you for asking."?

Oh, wait, there's more. I know the answer to that: So if I say, "So," I won't be saying, "Like, thank you for asking." The last person inside Cool City who said, "Like …" is now outside, and is lumped into the pile reserved for people like me.

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So, before we move on to other obnoxious trends, can we agree that the term, "trending" is getting a little ragged around the edges?

So, like, I know, I know (eye roll), older dudes are so yesterday when it comes to new word usages, but I will sometimes awaken from a nightmare in which I am chained to the copy desk of the Baltimore News American, with Joe Evans in the slot, and I have just handed him a headline with "trending" in it. It's awful. Joe wouldn't let us use the term "mid-air" to describe two planes flying into each other, so I know how he's going to roll with "trending" in a headline, even a 14-point on a column closer.

The man who makes his living ranting like, "There's no such place as 'mid-air.' Is it here? Or over here? Tell me where it is. Can you do that?" is going to tell me to find it in the dictionary, which is fair enough, but it won't make any difference to Joe. If I justify the use of a word that Joe doesn't like with the excuse that it's in the dictionary, Joe says, "Lots of words are in the dictionary that don't belong there. They aren't words; they're just colloquialisms."

If Wikipedia had come along when Joe was on the News American copy desk, he'd have stroked out on the spot.

So, I suffered, but, like, now I know what Joe was all about. He was trying to keep us from aiding and abetting the destruction of American English usage.

So, the reason for that is, if we don't know how to talk, pretty soon we won't remember how to listen. Or is it the other way around? Whatever.

So – oh, wait, I have to take this call – never mind. So, where was I?

Oh, yeah: So I was lamenting the disintegration of oral communication skills, but OMG, that doesn't even come close to the loss of written communication. We, like, should chill out a little on all the abreves, don't you think (LOL)?

But not to worry, the Joes of the world are so retro anyway, when you can just enter a key word and click, am I right?

So what's the big deal if nobody looks at each other any more if you stay connected on line? Texts are way cooler than – duh! – conversation? Gag!

So that reminds me of another trend I'm hearing? Where every statement becomes a question? With the last word or syllable (that's a section of a word, like, if it has two sounds, like, apple is really ap-ul) rising like it's not a statement but a question?

You even hear the lilting finale among the most educated guests on the news on public television, which is about as educated as television gets. They invite a professor of Middle Eastern History on for a chat and she is asked what significance the actions of the day have on the Sunni leadership's status.

She replies something like, "So the Sunni leadership is experiencing some challenges right now? They have several mullahs who are leaning toward a more moderate approach? So the picture is really out of focus?"

Yah. I know.

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And they say that those of us who learned to read in the Dick and Jane books were disadvantaged.

I had a dream during a nap. In it I am reading a primary book (a product made with paper with word printed in ink): "So run, Jane, run? Run, run, run?" and Jane says, "So, look, Dick, look? See Spot run? So look, look, look?"

Dean Minnich writes from Westminster. His column appears on Thursdays. Email him at dminnichwestm@aol.com.

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