Now I’m all for the colorful adaptation of the English language. It’s one of the things that makes talking to the American human such an exciting event. Hell, the 80s wouldn’t have even existed without colloquialisms. It was fresh, dope, hype and ill without ever faltering. I was barely in my big kid pants by the time it ended, but I had no problem “catching anyone on the flip side” or just “chilling like a villain,” whenever anyone needed to know what exactly was “up” with me. It was creative. It was era-defining. It was not an egregious error of pronunciation that the world just ran with.
And that is the perfect transition into what is really “crunching my cogs” this week. I absolutely cannot stand people using and/or justifying the use of the word “ratchet.”
It’s funny. In a post about language, I feel like I lack the descriptive powers to detail exactly how much this matter affects my soul. It’s like a pestering flea has made its nest beneath my tongue and is slowly building an addition onto his two-story colonial home, towards the area leading to my uvula. And he’s not even using good materials. He went to one of those home liquidator box stores where they sell wood laminate for like 12 cents a square foot, just putting cheap, sharped edge stuff in the fleshy parts of my mouth. It’s just that bothersome.
The word “ratchet” was born out of a mistake. Someone was trying to describe a scene of an uncouth nature and while their brain searched frantically for the term “wretched,” their tongue and throat couldn’t wait to bellow out the first word that was phonetically close to it. It was an honest slip of the tongue. We’ve all had those moments. You try to say “coffee” and blurt out “cafe”, or you try to say “let’s break up,” but instead you say “will you make me the happiest man on the planet by becoming my wife and spending the rest of our lives together.” Nobody can fault anyone for a slight mispronunciation. But the mistake known as “ratchet” refuses to die.
It has become a global phenomenon, the mistake that defined an entire genre of music, fashion, recreational pugilism and flagrantly urban behavior. It has catapulted social media sites like WorldStar.com to near Google-like foot traffic. It’s, well, it’s incomprehensible. The word just won’t go away.
It’s even invaded the professional setting. I work in corporate America when I’m not supplying The Thought Renaissance with this much needed content, and yes, I’ve been “blessed” to hear the word exchanged in interviews, in meetings, by supervisors, by security, by the janitorial staff, by the men that insist on talking to me at the urinal, in the elevator, everywhere. Damn you, Urban-American youth, with your ability to change things on such a grand scale as the old guard continuously dies out and decays away into the void of parachute pants, bell bottoms, and republican support.
I fear “ratchet” will, one day, become an Oxford accepted term, complete with an equally upsetting definition.
Ratchet – (adjective) – a term used to describe that dumb shit you see and need to qualify immediately before you post it to the Gram.
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. — William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)