As someone who earns his living through writing (no, not from this blog), I tend to get hung up on issues of clarity. I rail against buzzwords, and I reject mutations of colloquialisms that suck the original meanings out of them.
Which is not to say I am against the natural evolution of the language. Rather, I am against the degradation of expression – when people say things simply because they’ve heard it said, instead of because it is what they mean.
Because of this flaw in my character, I sometimes have a difficult time with contemporary expressions which may, indeed, make sense, but which clash with my own limited sensibilities. Case in point: the expression “push back” as it refers to time frames.
Example: “The September 15th deadline has been pushed back by a week.” Does that mean the deadline is now September 8? Or is it September 22?
In common usage – at least in my experience – it means the new deadline is September 22, one week later than the original.
That makes no sense to me. Time, as we know it, is linear. It moves forward. If you move an event in time back, it means going backwards. In other words, earlier in time. To move the deadline from September 15 to September 22 is to push it forward – farther ahead in time.
I don’t understand why people don’t get this. I suspect these are the same people who say things like “I could care less” without even blinking at the obvious flaw in logic.
To be fair, “I could care less” is the ironic version of “I could not care less,” but I think the irony is lost on most of the people who use this expression. They just say it because it is what other people say. But I have news for you folks: irony is over. It vanished from the colloquial lexicon almost ten years ago – back when “generation X” grew tired of whining and went out and got jobs.
In the meantime, the deadline to stop saying “pushed back” when you mean to say “pushed forward” has just been pushed back to yesterday. So stop it already!