Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for English

English is a violent language.

I have a friend on social media who is an Italian going to school in Germany. Her English is excellent considering it's at least her third language. But it makes for some interesting conversations.

Her: I have my Italian exam still to take.
Me: I'm sure you'll destroy it.
Her: Destroy? I was always good in Italian. That's not very encouraging.

It's a strong word, destroy, and one we use so casually. "I'm going to destroy you at Mario Kart." "I got destroyed at the audition." So I had to explain to her no, in this case, "destroy" is good. It meant she was going to do so well, her exam would not be a semblance of a threat to her. And then I tried to think of other phrases she might not have been familiar with. It quickly became a downhill slide of violence.

- Wreck - "I wrecked that test."
- Annihilate - "Bob annihilated his speech."
- Murder - "I was so hungry, I murdered my cheeseburger."
- Hit - "Let's hit a Starbucks."

Ramen Empire (July 3rd, 2014, used with permission)
We express a lot with violence. Like, way too much. I, to my shame, do not know any other languages well enough to hold a conversation, much less know their slang, but I wonder if there are any others that embrace violence as casually as we do. And we wonder why there's so much violence in our country. People say it's our video games, our movies, our television. How rarely do we stop and realize it's in our language.


  1. Thank you for writing about this. While reading your blog I thought of another one, "kill" as in "he killed it today."

    1. Very true, Brandywine, that is another excellent example. I'm sure there are plenty I didn't touch on or may not even know about.