My friend the New York Crank is on a rant (surprise!) about language usage (link). I give him part credit here. I’d agree with him that making every declaration into a question is to be discouraged, not so much as a linguistic nicety as a character flaw: it represents an unwholesome concern for the opinion of the listener—about whose opinion, in many cases, the speaker really should not give a rat’s patootie.
I’m unpersuaded about the asserted inferiority of “gone missing” as against “is missing.” “Gone missing” has a nice active-verb flavor, and I like active verbs. Moreover, “gone missing” conveys an important linguistic distinction. Judge Crater “is missing,” having “gone missing” on the night of August 6, 1930. When my neighbor tells me that his cat has “gone missing,” I infer that it is something that happened so recently that we are still called upon to revise our behavior or change our attitudes—be on the alert for suspicious characters, or perhaps join the hue and cry. Both “gone” and “in” may be tactful euphemisms for “and is presumed dead” (Judge Crater would be 119 this year). It’s indirect, but at least in the case of “gone missing,” perhaps a bit of diplomatic evasion is forgivable (I remember the life insurance salesmen who were trained to say “if, God forbid, something should happen to you…”).
Which brings me to “like.” I mostly agree that we use it, like, way too much? But a few years ago, we had this faculty candidate—it was clear from the moment she got off the plane that she couldn’t imagine she was debasing herself even so much as to interview at so paltry a school. Anyway, midway through her ordeal she was coming out of the campus restaurant when her eye fell on a somewhat amateurish statue, the residuum, I suppose, of a student project. Through clenched teeth, she hissed: “You’ve got a lot of, like, art around here, haven’t you?”
Quite right, I should say, a lot of like art, which is not the same as real art. Standards must be maintained; certainly no place for a lady. The candidate, of course, has, like, gone missing--her divine afflatus now hovers over the exalted purlieus of a much more dignified venue (as does,for all I know, that of Judge Crater). Oh, and Francisco Franco is still dead.