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I’m afraid our beautiful English language is dying a slow and painful death.
Normally I don’t look at the news because it annoys me. It isn’t really news for the most part, it is fluff. Today, because I am sick and was told not to go to work (especially after yesterday’s performance of coughing and spluttering through my morning clinic), I arose and decided to take a quick gander at the news. Big mistake, huge mistake!
The first ‘news’ story I see has something to do with the size of a model’s pregnant belly. But what really irritated me was the expression used to describe her abdomen – ‘baby bump’. I can’t begin to tell you how aggravated I become when I hear this term in reference to a pregnant woman. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s just – stupid. It sounds like she has a lesion, or some type of growth – baby papule, baby vesicle, baby tumor, baby mass. It completely takes away and minimizes the amazing processes that are occurring within her body. I wish people would stop using that expression. How about the soft swelling of her abdomen, or her pregnant belly – not baby bump. It sickens me just to type it.
Then I started thinking about all the brilliant words we have available to us and how fewer and fewer good words are being used. Instead there are catch-phrases and terms used on a daily basis, that honestly I don’t understand. Here are a few that I came up with:
Hack – I always thought this referred to a golfer with no skill, or to what a person with productive cough does with mucous. Or it could be what one does with a machete when they are trying to get through thick undergrowth in a jungle?
Vet – This is the person I take my dogs to visit when they are sick, or when they need their vaccines. Or I could be referred to as a Vet because of my time in the military. This now seems to be used as a verb and I don’t understand it. (Addendum – My father points out to me this word has been around forever over in the UK, something to do with horses getting ‘vetted’, having an examination by a Veterinarian prior to purchasing a horse.) However, it is not a word I have heard over in the US, until just recently, and now I hear it all the time – everything and everyone is being vetted.
Viral – In my line of work, the use of this word portrays a constellation of symptoms that include fever, nasal congestion, malaise, cough or perhaps abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. It also usually elicits a discussion about why antibiotics are not required or recommended. I understand the use of this word in the social media world and thought it was clever initially, but now it is just overused.
Random – Last time I checked this word meant without direction, aim, rule or method, and has something to do with probability. Now it seems like it is a word that one uses to respond to a statement that makes no sense (That’s so random) or if one can’t think of a more brilliant response in return.
Epic – I always thought this had to do with a rather long-winded poem like Dante’s Divine Comedy. Epic can also be used when referring to a larger than life situation or something heroic. My children refer to the our dogs’ nightly playtime on the patio as the Epic Death Battle. I also hear ‘epic fail’ – is this considered an oxymoron?
Empower – This is a word that refuses to die. I remember this word came into vogue in the 1990s. I first heard it when the military decided to institute Total Quality Management, which seemed to go against the way the military had always run business. We heard the words empower, paradigm (the shifting of), and ‘thinking outside the box’. Is there an inverse correlation to the frequency this particular word is used and the sense of power and control people feel they have?
Proactive – Another irksome word, but now when I hear it I only think of acne treating products and envision diagrams of sebum-filled pores being miraculously scrubbed clean, open and closed comedomes being instantly eradicated with such products.
The ‘F’ word – I hate this word. It used to be a really good word, one to be saved for incidents of calamity, such as stubbing your toe, minor car accidents, annoying injuries and stupid mistakes. But now, it is seems to be a part of many people’s daily vocabulary. I have seen a few comedians use it in almost every sentence, as if saying this word repeatedly is somehow amusing. It is not amusing, it is repugnant. It just shows a total lack of imagination and provides evidence to confirm the speaker is in possession of a very limited vocabulary.
When I read the news, such as it is, I keep thinking back to a movie I saw years ago, Idiocracy. It is about an average American man who is tasked with being a participant in a hibernation experiment. He wakes up several centuries later, after being forgotten, to find the citizens of the world have been completely ‘dumbed’ down and he is the smartest person alive. It is an interesting movie in a silly kind of way, but it is frighteningly prophetic.
I am sure there are many other words frequently used that create great vexation among people like me who adore words. Can you think of some?
PS. I found several sites with words that were either misused or made up.