February 26, 2013

Using Words

Today's post is dedicated to a friend of mine.  I was worried that I might not be able to post today because I am currently working on a paper.  This awesome lady told me that she really liked my piece about "Lacking Inspiration".  When I told her I had a piece about "Using Words" that I had written years ago in preparation for this blog, but had not yet found a time to insert it, she said:  "Today's the day!"

Thank you sister K for your kind words.  They are an inspiration for a crazy rambler and self-entitled ranter.

Using Words
One of my biggest fears whenever I enter into discourse with anyone is the improper use of words.  I like big words.  I like descriptive words.  I love big descriptive words!  The right words used in the right order can force the mind to paint an elaborate and eloquent picture taking the form of anything from intense soul shattering beauty to depraved soul crushing horror.  Meanwhile the wrong words hastily jumbled together or the right words improperly implemented leaves one anywhere from confused and flustered to disinterested and judgmental.
For this reason, I hate public speaking.  I do not think well on my feet already and tend to get flustered when put on the spot in front of people.  Often times I find myself using big words that I have only seen contextualized and never bothered looking up the definitions to.  More often than not when I do this, I find myself regretting it immediately because I have misused a word or misunderstood the context of it.  I am honestly trying to forgive people when they do the same instead of immediately assuming they either have no idea what they are talking about or are obviously of poor intellect.  People get flustered when they speak.  Speaking is scary.  The rampant abuse of words and letters on the internet, however, tends to send me into a futile tirade which I will expound upon from here on out.
The internet is vast.  Buried deep within the archives of useless trivia and adult content are places that will direct one to the proper definition of words as well as the proper spelling of words.  There are features on most websites that will spellcheck words and some even fix grammatical errors.  There is even a website that has been dedicated to finding the word for which one only knows the definition to and not the word itself.  I can understand laziness breeds the occasional typo or the occasional slip up with a misused word from time to time, as well as the difficulty in understanding/representing a concept that someone is trying to get across when there is only text to work with (i.e. sarcasm).  I am sure we have all been there before.  I am a compulsive fixer of errors and prefer to frequent the places that will let me go back in to fix mistake after mistake that I have overlooked so that I can look reasonably intelligent to “whoever reads this”.
Why then, I ask myself, do people insist upon destroying my brain with horrible spelling, grammar, and bastard words online?  Every time I read a sentence that looks something like this:  “hey r u goin 2 b their 2nite?” I lose a little more faith in humanity.  Whenever people make up words like “meatavore” and “bling” instead of using perfectly good words like “carnivore,” “decadence,” or “gaudy jewelry” I can feel them eating away at my very soul.
I have developed a theory about this.  Not a theory about why people do this, because that is most obviously a plot against my sanity.  No, this theory is about what will happen to words and letters if the abuse and neglect of them does not cease.  To properly contextualize my theory, I will paraphrase a story from my childhood.  I cannot take credit for this story nor do I remember the author of the story or where it came from.  There was a fantastic book my mother used to read to us that had all kinds of horrifying stories within its bindings; stories which used to fascinate and terrify me before I was forced to attempt sound slumber.  I blame this book for what is wrong with me, but God do I love it!
There were two little boys who were brothers.  The older brother was always polite but the younger brother was always rude.  The older brother would always say “please” and “thank you” while the younger brother would simply demand to get his way and offer no thanks in return.  One day, the younger brother’s “please” was talking to the older brother’s “please.”  The  younger boy’s “please” was weak and sickly and struggling desperately to survive while the older brother’s “please” was strong and healthy and in no danger of death any time soon.  Seeing the younger “please’s” plight, the older “please” offered it a chance to get stronger once more by living in the older brother in order to get some exercise.  The older brother proceeds to unintentionally speak in double “pleases” for the duration of a family meal which manages to convince the little brother of the importance of saying “please”.  Both brothers become polite boys in the end and both “pleases” get plenty of exercise from that day forward.
This is what will happen to our letters and words if they don’t get used.  They will wither and die!
I can vouch for letters on this one:  they are social things.  Letters love to be strung together.  They depend upon their fellow letters for survival.  Take for example:  Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis; it is FOURTY-FIVE letters long.  Look how happy those letters are!  Some were so glad to be in this word they repeated themselves!  There were letters who applied for appearances in this word that got turned down.  Those letters cry themselves to sleep at night dreaming of the day they will be let back in out of the rain and made useful again.  Maybe we English speakers have just become lazy.  Has anyone seen the length of some of those German words?  They’re doing circles around English and they have crazy accented letters added to their alphabet.  (For example:  Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän.  This is a terrible example because it is a mere forty-one letters long, but rest assured there are plenty more where that comes from).  Ok, and technically I think the other example is considered Latin and not English either, but that just further proves my point.  English words are short enough as it is, we cannot spare to lose any more letters people!
Like the letters that make up the words, words are social things too and very energetic.  They are like terriers, they crave exercise.  Sure there are some larger more lethargic words that often sit around sleeping on the carpet and rarely do much more than lay there uselessly, but that does not mean when they are clawing at the door to get out or staring pitifully at an empty food dish they should be ignored as punishment.  There are literally books and internet pages dedicated to the memories of words that have been neglected to death.  Think about that.
All of this is not to say that the English language cannot evolve.  I am questioning whether it is evolving at all or devolving into some putrid, foul smelling, oozing refuse that no one wants to go near for fear of contracting some fatal festering disease.  See that?  I painted a rather disturbing picture there, did I not?  I did that with a little help from my words.

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