No, it’s not what you think. I’m not going to talk about me. I’m going to talk about you. Well, not if you aren’t guilty, but about those of you out there who are guilty of the linguistic narcissism of our times.
I’m talking about self-centeredich-bezogenself-centered phrases like, “I’ve got this!” or “I own this!” or — my personal favorite on the cringe scalePeinlichkeitsskalacringe scale — “I need you to do this for me!” Can you see my hair to stand on endhier: zu Berge stehenstanding on end? Whatever happened to polite and modestbescheiden, schlichtmodest language?
“I’ve got this!” No, you haven’t! Instead, try using, “Oh, that’s fine. Let me handle that. I can do it if that’s okay with you.” Is there really not enough time in your day to express yourself politely? I imagine “I’ve got this!” to evolvesich (positiv) entwickelnevolved — or to devolvesich (negativ) entwickelndevolved is perhaps a more accurate description — from “I’ve got this under control.” But that interpretation would be very generouswohlwollendgenerous. I think it has more to do with show off (ifml.)angebenshowing off, proving one’s own command of all things. Which brings me to:
“I own this!” This also means to to conquerbezwingenconquer or to mastermeisternmaster something. Seriously, if you use this phrase, it means the one thing you don’t “own” and haven’t mastered is modesty. unlessaußer, es sei dennUnless you’re Donald Trump, who never misses an opportunity to remind people of how wonderful he is, I suggest you avoid this phrase. Actually, you might even try avoiding people who use it, too.
The self-centeredness of modern language reflects the self-centeredness of modern culture
“I need you to do this for me!” Run for the hills if someone says this to you. But before you do, ask them where their manners went. If the situation arises in which you need someone to do something for you, please don’t say it like that, even if an alarming number of native speakers do these days. Instead, try: “Please, would it be possible for you to…?” or “Excuse me, but would you mind doing…?” or “I’d be very gratefuldankbargrateful if you could…”
The self-centeredness of modern language reflects the self-centeredness of modern culture. The postwar generation was raised on the civil rights, women’s, and peace movements. These movements brought people together. Today, there’s not so much of that. We live in the “I” generation. Our own, personal electronic deviceGerätdevices even have “i” in their names — and their use has led to everyone being the star of their own social media platforms. “Look at me! I’ve got this!”
Certainly, those platforms do wonders like never before in bringing people together. But please, if you speak to people, don’t jump on the to jump on the bandwagonTrittbrett fahrenbandwagon of abrupt, narcissistic jargon so often used on these platforms, on television, in advertising, and elsewhere.
Sorry! I really don’t like waving my finger at people. Everyone should do what they want. But please, be polite. I really do need you to do this for me. ;-)
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