Barbies, mate-speak, annoying hashtags - baby talk is out of control, says Violet Hudson, so can everyone just shut the hell up and start speaking like grown-ups again?
I blame Innocent Smoothies. They started it. "Hey, man," they said (I imagine), all friendly and wide-eyed in their creche, sorry, office. "Let's, like, really talk to people."
And so they covered their bottles with cutesy little messages to the customers. "Bored? Call us!" the bottles say, or "everyone's going to love you after you've drunk this drink" They have childish drawings and jokes and an assumed mate-y-ness that feels charming and cheeky.
Or it used to. Now the baby-talk has got out of hand and instead of seeming fresh and cheerful, as it once did, it feels strained and overly intimate. And, mostly, immature. Yes, that's right, baby-talk makes you sound like a baby. Or a grown-up pretending to be a baby, which, frankly, is a bit sick.
And everyone's at it. From restaurant menus which invite you to "make friends" with your waiter to corporations whose taglines are laughably childish (Google, I'm looking at you and your "don't be evil") it's almost impossible to move these days without being assailed from all sides by companies plugging their wares by talking down to the customers. Never mind the BBC dumbing down; the whole country is dumbing down.
It's not just businesses, either. Glance at twitter and for every pithy, witty thought there are a thousand pointless babyisms. "Ooooh I am so hungry *giggles*" or "Oh wow a new Barbie! I may be 35 but I #want!". For a medium that can start riots and end wars, there's an awful lot of girls simpering over pictures of cupcakes. And that's without even touching on the spelling mistakes and bad grammar.
It happens in the office, too. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of lol. But when everyone around me - educated, smart, mature, sexy, professional men and women - starts talking exclusively in txt spk - out loud, I mean, not on their phones - then it's time to take a stand. And don't even get me started on girls who baby talk to their partners. "Oh lickle me all I want is cuddles and kisses". YEURGH. It's demeaning and it makes you sound like a total fool. And it is the opposite of sexy. (N.B. if you're going out with someone who thinks talking like this is hot, you need to a) dump them IMMEDIATELY and b) call the police.) Next time I hear someone talking to their boyfriend as though they were their babysitter, I am going to hit them over the head with my dictionary.
As BT so kindly remind us, it's good to talk. But it's good to talk in a way that is thoughtful, grown-up and correct. There is nothing clever or funny about talking in a way that makes you sound like a teenager, or, worse, a child. Perhaps it's laziness, or perhaps you think it's cute, or funny, or original. It's not. It's silly and it's false. And it's time to grow up.
LOVE THIS WRITER? Follow her on Twitter @violetiihudson.
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