Club Politique by Che Tibby

Dumbing Things Up

Things have been a bit quiet here at Politique Towers lately. Which is likely to be the reason for my latest peeve. 'As to'. Have you heard people using that? Normally it's something someone says when they're trying to sound a little brainier. I once had a workmate who used to say 'hence why' for example. It was almost always when he was trying to impress someone, and you can guarantee that he had no idea it meant nothing.

It's a strange thing the old trying to sound smarter. And so, so stupid. If you talk at you natural level you're more likely to actually be making sense, and as long as you don't automatically patronise anyone who does not share your abilities with English then you'll never be the one they whisper about at the watercooler. But 'hence why'....

It would go like this, 'I was feeling a little cold, hence why I put the heater on'. Hence? Hence is one of those really fancy English words you should leave for lawyers and other professions based on pedantry. Oh. Sorry to all the lawyers. I've noticed that lately Club Politique has degraded to taking the mickey out of people, such as fatties. I'll try and reign that one in. Law is basically pedantry masquerading as professionalism though. Go on, admit it. Over-paid pedants.

Anyhow, I digress. Again. Hence why you'll be stopping reading me and getting on with your work, or something. As for my other question, the use of 'as to', it's one of those little phrases I heard in a seminar once, and suddenly it's everywhere. Like the first time you hear 'obfuscate'. Pretty soon your grandma is saying it, guys on building sites are yelling at your missus, 'don't obfusycate your [insert crude term] love!'.

As I say, when I first heard it I assumed that the speaker was just trying to sound a little sharper. I thought this because I would have said 'why' instead of 'as to'. As in, 'I was explaining as to why this happened', or 'the police are investigating as to why the burglar was able to steal a small portion of proper grammar'. In both those sentences you could have just said 'why'.

Not long after noticing it in that seminar I was woken up by the same usage on NATIONAL RADIO. There I was, gently awaking in the morning, trying not to be disturbed by the news, when there it was, dropped into a sentence like there was nothing wrong. Bolt upright I was, and ready to write an angry email. But then I realised that it was only 6.30am, and it would wait happily till a bit later. And then I ran out of things to talk about, so blogged about it instead. Yay.

Of course, since that time I've heard half a dozen people say it, including 3 News.

So while it I'm unhappy about it, I guess I'll just have to live with it. I guess it's becoming an idiom, something uniquely Kiwi if you please. As to the origins of this particular idiom, I cannot say. Likely it's just something bred out of a corporate culture built on people needing to sound edumacated to be taken seriously. Whatever happened to actual expertise being the better measure, with things like life experience taking precedence over certification, I do not know.

Pedantically Yours,