WIHMMB – Reason #5 Viral words

To start, you must know I’m a Gemini and although I think astrology is complete bunk, I’m not above using it as a reason to justify me being fickle, superficial and easily bored. So easily bored that I’m already ready to get up and stop writing this, because I’m growing weary of my slap-dash writing style. It’s really not respecting the craft of writing to be so casual about it all, is it? That’s why none of the good writers respect me, that and I might have been overheard saying I’m bored of people nattering on and on about their craft.

Even if I’m not of the artisan class of writers, they of the crafting and the honing and the polishing, I do have some reverence for words and it pains me to see them abused. This isn’t about spelling or grammar, it’s really not my thing to be picky about something so pedestrian and easily corrected; it’s a style issue, and as such endlessly open to debate. I am calling this class of offense viral words, both because they make me a little queasy and because they spread like mono at a high school dance.

So, how does this relate to message boards?

The problem on message boards isn’t that people use words in a way I find distasteful, it’s that people use words in a way I find distasteful and others emulate them, intentionally or not. Perhaps they do it because, having bad taste, they think it will add zip and flair to their writing. I wish that the general public would cease to try and add zip and flair to everything, it usually winds up a hot, bedazzled mess. Embrace the ordinary, that’s my motto.

It could be that people just absorb these words just like one sometimes do with accents, which is unfortunate because just like with the accents, the effect is incomplete and jarring and leaves you thinking “something just isn’t right here”. You can’t just pluck a word that isn’t your style and throw it into your writing willy nilly. For example, I am not the sort of person who says words like “exigent” and if I were to come up with a sentence like “We have an exigent fart situation here, somebody light a match”, you’d give me the crazy eyes and wonder if I was listening to vocabulary tapes in my sleep.

Now that I think of it, this comes up a lot with words that are other than American English. Arse. Shite. (Baby) bump. Most instances of feck. It just doesn’t sound right plopped down in the middle of an otherwise American corn fed, apple pie style sentence. I know languages borrow from each other all of the time, but I am not sure why we need to borrow words for Ass, Shit, (Baby) Belly and Fuck. Why can’t we borrow words like mucky-gobbed slapper? That, I could get behind.

Other words I find bothersome

  • ‘Tis - I am convinced that people use this so much because they can’t remember it’s/its. If you are going to start a sentence with ’tis, the rest of it better be in iambic pentameter or I’m going to be annoyed.
  • Babe - When referring to a baby. The only babes I know are the Little Lord Jesus and Sonny & Cher. I do not know about your baby, but mine does not have hair down to his ass and a mustache.
  • Loathe - a good, solid word that normally I enjoy but people seem intent on watering it down. People can’t possibly loathe a quarter of the things they claim to, otherwise they’d explode from all that pent up disgust. We’ve already watered down hate, use that instead.
  • Natch - what is wrong with “naturally”? Or if you must try and spiff it up a bit, you could use the German Natürlich. Borrowing words from foreign languages is okay, I’ve just got a thing against OTAESBA.
  • Spork (in my eye) – is it too much to ask that we try and come up with a different phrase? It makes me want to curl up in a ball like an armadillo and wait to become roadkill. Not that, because I’ve just said it and become bored with it. Just use some creativity.
  • Divine - again, watering down the words. God is divine, your crock pot étouffée just smells delicious. Tasty. Maybe scrumptious but I doubt it, I’ve seen your recipes.

Clearly, I could go on, but I will stop here as it is likely I have managed to insult 97% of my audience. That is fine, it’s never been easy to be a crusader and I accept the burden with a humble willingness to be of service to the words. That’s me, humble handmaiden to our lexicon, willing defender of our language, tireless advocate for pragmatics. I am indeed, a Word Warrior.


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