Weekly Musing: Cease and Desist Part Two

A couple of years ago I did a blog post on my five least favorite words. Since then, the list has grown with a few more words I wish I could banish from the English language. Below are five more words who when spoken or read really grinds my gears.

Pop: I’m not so much against the word itself rather the phrase “Makes it pop”. I watch way too much HGTV where the phrase “Makes it pop” is uttered at least half a dozen times in any given program. I also hear this phrase outside of HGTV in reference to anything that makes something else standout.

While it’s a great, easy word to describe something which is more noticeable, I’d like to see different words and phrases mixed in. For example, how about using stands out, contrast, or noticeable?

Tremendous: Since the 2016 Presidential election, this word has lost meaning for me. Instead of tremendous let’s use marvelous, wonderful, great, incredible, fantastic, magnificent, any number of synonyms for this word. Let’s go back to using this word sparingly so that when we do hear it or see it, we don’t roll our eyes or make fun of its usage.

Misogyny: First, let’s have the actual definition. Pretty straight forward and simple, yet I see this word misused all the time. It seems many people believe something or someone is misogynist if at any time anything bad happens to a woman. As a writer, I see this word overly used to describe an author, always a male author, as being a misogynist simply because a female or females endures trauma. Never mind that a work of fiction is not a reflection of how the author thinks or feels as a human. However, I have yet to see a female writer be labeled a misogynist if female characters in her story suffer rape or abuse. In that case the female writer is probably lauded as bringing the experience of female suffering to the masses.

In looking at the definition of misogyny we see no gender distinction. See, I don’t believe misogyny is exclusive to only men. There are women out there who despise their own gender and act with prejudice against other females. Would this not make them misogynists?

Curiously I do not see the male equivalent of this word, misandry, used. Certainly, there are females who harbor a hatred, dislike, or mistrust of men or who harbor prejudice against men. Do we not have books, movies, and TV shows where women inflict abuse upon men simply because they are a man? Do we not see how it is social acceptable for a group of women to rip on men? But if a group of men did the same thing, used the same language in the same tone of voice, we’d scream “Misogyny!”

The overuse and misuse of this word revels a double-standard in society and why we need to think before using it.

Terrorism/Terrorist: Two more words which, in my opinion, are overused and used incorrectly. Here are the definitions of terrorism and terrorist. Ever since 9/11, terrorism and terrorist have been overused and more troubling, misused. We have seen these words used in a bias manner to create a dangerous “us vs. them” narrative. After all, what is the difference between someone who identifies as a white supremacist and who attacks parishioners of a black church and the 9/11 attackers? Both committed crimes meant to scare and intimidate people based upon intense hate.

Not only do these words show bias, they are way overused. People have been committing acts of terrorism for thousands of years. History is littered with revolutionaries who, yes, committed what could be considered terrorist acts against numerous governments. Groups of people have killed and intimated others simply for being different. Is this not terrorism? After all it is a deliberate, calculated attempt at scaring others. Yet humans have rarely uttered the words terrorist or terrorism until the 21st century.

 

There you have it, a few more words I can’t stand. As you can tell the theme of why they bug me so much is either incorrect use or being repeated so much they become white noise. To me this shows a lack of creativity or ability to use a thesaurus. It also changes the impact of those words. Some are meant to illicit anger and outrage to push a hate-filled agenda. Others lose their impact by becoming white noise. Words hold so much power, let’s be smarter about how we use them.

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.