Special note on the title: I figured that there must be an opposite of the word “greeting,” and it turns out it’s “valediction.” Instead of using a houty-touty word such as that, I’ve grouped everything into the serves-all “goodbye.” You’re welcome.
I saw some of the MTV Movie Awards tonight, and Johnny Depp, accepting Best Performance for Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (Piratey-Boogaloo), did the normal awards-show spiel after receiving a lengthy standing ovation from the audience. Nothing out of the ordinary… except, instead of ending his speech with “thanks,” “bye,” or even the ‘look at me, I’m a World traveller’ and I want you to know it, “Ciao,” he dropped this gem: “Cheers.” What is this world coming to. And that’s not a question. Given the wide variety of ways to say “goodbye” (even some that serve to combine it with a “thanks” aspect), he has to give the trendy, pretentious “cheers.”
Let Johnny Depp serve as an example for the problems with the phrase, but his usage was no more egregious than any others’. I take exception with this expression for three reasons:
1) “Cheers” is a drinking-related saying. That’s fine, but this was an awards show, not a restaurant. It wasn’t even the Golden Globes which (obviously) serves alcohol. This is the biggest issue – it makes no sense.
2) It reeks of Eurotrash and, even worse, Americans who wish they were Eurotrash. You know these people – they refer to manual transmissions as “standard” and call elevators “lifts” just so you can make a weird face at them to which they respond by saying these exact words (every time): “I was in London, and that’s what they call them in London.”
3) I’d like to take credit for being part of the cusp of the expression “not so much.” In fact, my earliest documented utterance of the phrase was way back in July of 2004. I challenge anyone to beat that. I’m not claiming to be first, but I’d like to think I beat any of you seven reading this to the punch. How is this related to “cheers?” Well, tangentially at best. I guess I’m just a little bitter, and my lexicographic warning radar is going of like crazy about the soon-to-be “cheers” phenomenon. Consider this my warning to people who want to keep European lingo where it belongs.
People Who Say “Cheers” Instead of “Goodbye” get ZERO stars. The English language has hundreds of thousands of words, and provides myriad tools for making up words (such as “spamera” – n. a digital camera used to take pictures which will later be e-mailed to everyone the camera owner knows, but no one will look at. Usage: “Yeah, my mom is unfortunately bringing her spamera to my nephew’s pre-school graduation next weekend, so I’m definitely going to spend time familiarizing myself with the delete button in my e-mail program.”) Hmm. That’s actually a pretty good made-up word. Anyway. Lots of words, easy to make-up new ones. Does the bowel of the English language that is the British dialect really need to be given a colonic every time someone decides that he’s too cool for “bye” or “thanks?”