Weekly Musing: Cease and Desist

Last week I happily explained what my 5 favorite words in the English language are. But because with the good there has to be some bad, or at the very least, annoying, here I present my 5 least favorite words. These are words, or a phrase, I wish could be struck from the dictionaries and people’s vocabulary. Some of my choices are fairly recent words that have entered the English language while others have been firmly entrenched for a while.

Baby bump: Throughout history, uptight societies have come up with many euphemisms to describe a pregnant woman because for some reason just saying the word pregnant was repugnant. You have the phrases such as “with child “or “in the family way” or “babe in the belly” before sometime past I Love Lucy it became somewhat okay to say a woman was pregnant. History fact: It was taboo to say pregnant on TV as well as have a married couple share the same bed for a long time. Now, though, we have the grating term of “baby bump.” Thank you entertainment news shows.

What I find most annoying about this term is it is cutesy and utterly juvenile. Does anyone describe their dog or cat as having a puppy or kitten bump it they’re pregnant? No, because it sounds silly so why apply it to grown women?

Moist: This word just makes my skin crawl. Unless one is talking about cake or other baked goods, this word should never be used to describe anything else. I’m not alone in this. A few years ago on NPR’s All Things Considered, they had a fun year-end piece about peoples favorite and least favorite words. Guess which word was mentioned frequently? Yup, moist. Biggest reason given? It just sounds kinda gross.

Liberal & Conservative: I’m lumping these 2 words together because my reasons for disliking both are the same. I dislike these words because when people use them they make it sound as if one is better, or worse, than the other is.

While labels are part of human nature, they serve a purpose in helping us determine how we will approach a person or group, the biggest problem with labels is people forget to look at the individual. In the case of these two particular words is it so flummoxing that there are good conservatives as well as bad ones? Or that there are good liberals as well as bad ones? Just because an idea originated in one group or the other doesn’t mean it’s inherently evil.

Selfie: Ahh, another one of these newfangled words. Yet it really isn’t. It’s just a shortened version of self-portrait. Artists have painted and sketched self-portraits for years whether as a way of studying anatomy, to experiment with a new technique, on just because, the idea of a self-portrait is nothing new.

People taking self-portraits with a camera isn’t new either. Pretty much since the invention of the camera, people have taken pictures of themselves. This didn’t seem to be a big deal until the last few years.

The reason the word selfie gets on my nerves is because of how close it sounds to selfish. Perhaps it’s because so many of us, myself included, have taken and posted selfies, all over the place. Get over yourself; you’re not that interesting!

It also grates on me because it is misused. Selfie means one person taking a picture of them self and only them self. Start adding other people in and it’s not a selfie even if you are taking the picture while being in it.

Pussy: Avert your eyes if you don’t want to read the rest of this. I can’t stand this word. It goes beyond its substitution for vagina. I hate it being used for a cat. I think the plant pussy willow needs to be renamed to something else willow. It’s an insult to be called a pussy because apparently one is weak based on the notion of women being weaker than a man is.

It’s just a gross word with no real application other than talking about the pussy willow plant. Just saying it feels gross. I need a Purell shower now.

 

There are plenty of other words that bother me. I hate racial slurs yet realize they unfortunately help some people express themselves while demonizing others. Language is beautiful even in its ugliness because it reflects life as we humans see it. Should their usage be limited? It would be great but just because it offends me doesn’t necessarily mean it offends other people.

In light of Charlie Hebdo, and other incidents worldwide, language and free speech are under more scrutiny. Free speech is something I’ve always held dear to me not only because I’m a writer but as a lover of books and history. When societies start censoring is when we as a people begin losing our freedoms. This is something the founding fathers understood. We all have a voice and we are all entitled to use that voice whether it is to go with the status quo or against the grain.

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