Basically, I’m middle-aged and I’m angry

BIG Associate Director Phil Addicott shares his frustrations with grammar in this article, republished from his popular LinkedIn post. 

I get my early morning news fix from BBC Radio 5 Live and it is a daily battle to see how many utterances of the “B” word I can stand before I turn to the sanctuary of 6 Music.

There’s a “B” word on everyone’s lips, and I’m fed up with it. I don’t think I’m alone.

Basically, it’s basically.

Whether it’s because I’m a father of a tweenager and I’ve noticed it more, but it seems to have become the filler word of the new generation.

In putting my thoughts down on paper, I came across a similar point of view from the Guardian’s tremendous Mind Your Language section. This was being written about in 2013 so it would suggest I’m late to this anger party, but it’s only when you first have a baby that you notice prams. I’m putting this down to my 11-year-old using it constantly, which means I’m noticing it more often and I can’t stop getting angry about it.

Maybe it’s also because I’ve just hit 40 and I’ve instantly turned into the middle-aged father of three I’d fear I’d become. I’m joining the word police. Next thing you know I’ll be tutting at people who put their feet up on train seats.

As a professional communicator who spends my day reading, writing and speaking, I’m a fully paid up member of the movement which believes the English language is one which should constantly evolve. It’s already a hybrid of other languages. Grammar should remain a constant, but the use and application of words, whether they are written or spoken, is constantly changing, and that’s fine.

However, “basically” has been added to the list which also includes:

· Could of

· Expresso

· Like

· Yeah, no….

· Literally

· Delighted (in press releases and LinkedIn posts)

· The intonation at the end of sentences which makes people sound like they are asking a question when they are making a statement

Basically, it’s a filler. It means nothing in the application which has become the modern norm. It has become one of those verbal ticks which suggests a lack of confidence in a point being made, to make something appear simpler, or more complicated, than is necessary.

For every chore my 11 and 7-year-olds successfully complete (for a pre-agreed rate and fee) there is a deduction for every use of “basically”.

In an era where more words are written, spoken and heard than ever before – let’s try to make sure every word is precious. They’ll be lost if we don’t.

Having said that, I’m saving myself a fortune for every utterance by my children, so perhaps long may it flourish.

(Disclaimer – I KNOW there will be a grammatical or semantic error in this article. That’s the beauty of the English language and I’m happy to be corrected).