We live in the age of the catchphrase. The syndrome, the tell-all word, the whoop of positive vibrations. It’s really awesome to be alive in 2013. Or is it splendid? High school was amazing, 1995 was pretty dope, my kids are awesome, and my new boyfriend is fabulous. But nowadays, I’m going for splendid. Maybe it’s the influence of Downton Abbey or just my love affair with that plummy aural smorgasbord we call British English, but I really plan to commit to splendid.
But that just begs the following question: why do I need splendid? Sure, certain situations will call for it, occasionally. And I know I can use it as a definitive articulation of satisfaction, say when my daughter tells me she’s set the table or my son has finished his homework. But for the most part, if I’m to be completely honest, “good” or “okay”, or even “whatevs” ought to cover how I feel about things. Is everything really that awesome? If not, then why say it is? Why lavish superlatives on middling moments?
Most of life consists of banalities. Buying toilet paper. Getting to the bus stop on time. Paying the hydro bill. Doing the dishes. These activities may not define life, but they are the backdrop, the hemp sack-wearing servants flitting through the shadows of our self-portraits, our social network brands, our first-date interviews and our consoling calls home to mother.
But you know, splendid has a certain world-weary ring, it’s unattached to giddy North American optimism. It’s Evelyn Waugh-esque. I can use it ironically, when the situation calls for eloquent scorn. I can use it with wide-eyed who-me enthusiasm, leaving it to my interlocutor to tap into their emotional IQ to gauge my sincerity. It’s perfect for banquets and views. Splendid, my friends, is awesome.
Genevieve, I find this explanation for our over-use of superlatives in a bit simplistic, but not without merit:
I usually just fall back on the indefatigable “cool”. And let us not forget “fabulous” and “sweet” which have, as of late, in some circles, made a definitive comeback 🙂
Sylvain, I think there’s something to that article. We live in a superlative age – or at least our social media would have us think so…