No Problem!

I know that language is an evolving entity. A refusal to acknowledge changes in usage and meaning labels you as old-fashioned, an aged codger or, worse, a geezer! So be it. I’ve seen changes I can live with and some I rile against, some that sound silly and others that sound stupid. To my ears, many of the new (often ungrammatical) errors serve tono-problem neon make the speaker appear ignorant. Not to seem overly critical, here are just two:

When I recognize a person for doing something for me, I usually comment by saying a simple “Thank you.” I expect “You’re welcome.” When did it become “No problem?” I don’t need to know that the person carried off the favor with such ease that it was hardly worth noting; in fact, isn’t it better for me to go on thinking that his act of kindness was achieved with a great deal of difficulty or effort? “No problem,” or “Not a problem” diminishes his act; one would think it to be to his benefit to have it appear as though there was some level of complexity in performing it, hence gaining my even greater appreciation!

Are we having fun yet? Did you have a fun day? Is this a fun blog? Do we know the difference between a noun and an adjective? There was a time when the word fun was only a noun, as in the sentence: I had so much fun at the wet t-shirt contest! Then people began using it as an adjective, as in: This is a fun party! Regrettably, I note that my Merriam Webster online dictionary not only legitimizes its use as an adjective, but also continues the farce by also justifying the comparative forms funner and funnest! Pulllllease! What are we doing here? Argggh!

Fun day 1I suppose I should just let go of the archaic and embrace the latest changes to our language. That would be the effortless thing to do. After all, who’s gonna notice if I change a part of speech? A definition? An idiom? Add an apostrophe? Create a new spelling? Eliminate a phrase? Invent a new one? “Go with the flow,” I say to myself. And what does Myself answer? “No problem!”

12 Comments

  1. lewisbaden

    In this modern age of information we now have, at our fingertips, an infinity of possible ways which we may create, destroy, validate or invalidate any or all language that we choose to!

  2. I’m okay with “no problem” as several languages often use “it was nothing” as “you’re welcome” (de rien, de nada, nichevo – French, Spanish and Russian). However, “fun” as an adjective bothers me. And as comparative forms, just horrendous to hear. Count me out.

    • I like your comment. I didn’t think of the Spanish “de nada” — you make a good point!

  3. I can’t say I share either of these irks, but I can see where “No problem” could seem dismissive. However, I think that might leave out the human tendency to be humble about favors done. The words might say “no problem” but perhaps the act speaks volumes. It might also be a way of saying, “It was okay for you to ask that favor.”

  4. Jackie

    Clearly one of your best!

  5. “No problem” is offensively dismissive. By saying it, the speaker, whose courtesy was acknowledged with a “thank you,” and who might have graciously lobbed the ball back, instead throws it into the stands.

    • Agree! Thank you for your insight.

  6. Here is one to ponder. Ending a sentence with a preposition. Ever since an editor once admonished me for that, I have been very careful to avoid it. That is, until I recently read a short, entertaining tome on the evolution of the English language. The linguist who wrote it railed against the no preposition-ending rule, calling it an archaic and arbitrary admonition dating to the 17th century. To be or not to?

    • I, too, read the same thing you did and saw an example (eludes me now) that clearly illustrated why it was OK in some instances.

      • FWIW: Grammar Girl refers to the preposition prohibition as one of the top ten grammar myths. I’ve read that it actually is a rule of Latin, but was never a rule of English. Comments in the Grammar Girl article seem to confirm this:
        http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ending-prepositions.aspx

      • thanks, I will surely check out Grammar Girl!

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