Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wordiness of words

I love words.

I love to read the dictionary- just for the pleasure of learning about words. Where they are derived from, how to use them correctly, their accurate definition.

I refuse to dumb down my vocabulary, which more often than not sends my children to the huge dictionary we have here at home- usually because I refuse to simply tell them what a word means, I would rather them seek out that knowledge for themselves. The phrase "go look it up" can have some quite comical results at times.

So, in the spirit of using words and knowing their power, I have made a short list of words which I feel are over-used. These are words which have been hyped or taken out of their normal context and set to the extreme definition of the word. We all know of innocuous words we have heard and spoken for years that have suddenly become blase simply based upon the popular usage of them.

Here goes:

1. anyways- Yes, there are several ways in which we can do things and anyway technically covers them in a broad sense of the word. However, it is when we use the word "anyways" as a filler word to cover a gap in conversation or as a means to change the subject that suddenly makes it redundant. We can change or close topics without adding "anyways" to the discussion- even if we are nervous. We manage, most of us at least, to omit it from our writing in that context. Rather than say "anyways", why not simply use an appropriate transitional word and shift or close topics more smoothly? If we can accomplish that feat while writing, why not doing it also when we speak?

2. can't- If there was ever a word which makes my blood boil more, it doesn't come to mind. Admittedly, there are always things which can not be done- and that is fine. But when a word is repeatedly used as a mantra, as in the case of "can't". It is much more effective to say "I have difficulty" or "I'm afraid" or even "I don't know how", than to fall back on the word "can't" which too many have turned into a crutch word- meaning it props them up and facilitates their inaction.

3. google- The word "google" wasn't even really a word until the advent of the google search engine. Now the word "google" is used synonymously to mean "look something up". Now while it is perfectly fine to use the Google search engine, there are still a multitude of people who choose not to, prefering rather to use one of the other available search engines. The popularity of "googling" something is a bit of a phenonmenon in that people know they are doing research- so why not simply say "research"?- and they know that Google hits are not infallible, so that the results are a bit suspect. All in all, if you are going to look something up online- state that. Terming your actions as googling/ to google has gotten a bit obnoxious to some of us, to say the least.

4. hope- Much of the time we see/ hear the word "hope" nowadays it is not to convey the altruistic wishes of our yearnings, but it is more in line with our desires. Many of us hear hope and think of emotions, sometimes sacred but always those ideas we hold close to our hearts. This standard meaning of "hope" has shifted in recent years both in popular culture and most recently within the political arena. He now akin our desires to be our "hopes", no matter how much spin we attempt to apply to the word. It is sometimes as if by using the word "hope" in place of the word "desire" we can appear less selfish and self-serving. Through the use of "hope" we convey a feeling of wanting to better mankind- let's just get past all of this candy coating and say we want and desire something, not that we merely "hope" fpr it.

5. change- Why has the word "change" come synonymous with political agendas? I know that any time there is a shift in leadership, the new powers- that-be wish to make their own personal mark. But what is it about professing "change" that is supposed to make the pills of politics we are sometimes forced to swallow easier? "Change... change... change...", we have been subjected to the theory for months- but there is nothing really supporting the theory... no substantial hypothenus, no comparisons... how do we know what to "change" when there is no consensus? Let's set the word "change" aside and replace it with "rebuild", "revamp", "restore", "innovate".. or any other of a dozen words which would better illustrate the path we are being led down. I sometimes wonder in the case of the word "change" that such an ambiguous word was chosen simply to keep a light from being shone on what was really occuring- you can just never be to sure.

I know that there are many other words which need to be tossed out for being ineffective now, but I do hope you've enjoyed reading my perspective on the use of a few words which hear repeatedly in modern daily life.

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