Sunday, 6 March 2011

Weekly Geeks: Long Live the Word


This weekend's Weekly Geeks post is about words. We all love them, we all read more of them than the average person (I have no proof for that, it's just a good sweeping statement for a Sunday evening!) but which do we hate and which would we be desperate to save?

As they say over at Weekly Geeks:

"Words make up our daily life, some we we hate, some are never to be spoken and some are so over used we wish they would just disappear"

This week's task? As follows:

1. Visit SaveTheWords. All the words there, looking pretty in the collage, are redundant and in line for a cull. Adopt a word (it's free, in case you're wondering...).

I chose ANTIPELARGY - "mutual or reciprocal kindness" - I figured that there can never be too many words for kindness of any kind, so let's keep one more!

2. What is your pet peeve word?

This is probably a Yorkshire thing but it gets on my nerves just thinking about it: for some reason, a large portion of the county's population (which I am not originally from, therefore leaving me able to see the glaring idiocy...) confuse 'learn' with 'teach'. For example, while in a previous job, my boss' response to a colleague's lack of system knowledge was, "Don't worry, I'll learn you". Nonsense!! Or more accurately, not necessarily nonsense but certainly not the sentence she intended.

I can't bear it. It makes my skin crawl and my heart break.

I also hate the word 'moist'. But that's because I'm infantile and the sound of the word is just...icky!

3. What is a word you adore, or a word that you feel isn't used enough?

This one is harder. I love the word 'impudent' because it just sounds lovely and old English and is great as a telling-off word ("Don't be so impudent!" just sounds good! I realise that's weird...)

What else? Erm, I like the word 'soliloquy' because it a) reminds me of learning about Shakespeare at school, which I loved, and b) it just sounds nice!

Neither are used very regularly so I'm going with those as, for some reason, all words are escaping my brain before I can grasp them...

4. What is your opinion on word culling, and the rise on 'text speak' that's happening now?

Although I think word culling is sad, I can unfortunately see the purpose. There will always be texts in which you can read the more 'old-fashioned' words and the internet for translating the more obscure. Dictionaries can only hold so much, however, and language must progress. I occasionally encounter 19th century deeds in my day job and am awed by the volume of words used to say the simplest thing! It is elegant and charming but by golly is it hard to make sense of!

Really, I don't think we can help but move along with a change in language culture - I know when I was younger, even, that I would use words in a manner that would make my parents stop in confusion. (Incidentally, when did 'sick' become a good thing...?!). Much though I love a good old 'hereinafter' or 'thou' and enjoy dallying with them when I have the time, perhaps I won't start re-integrating them into my speech...

I adore the flowery language of bygone days and think that the limited vocabulary of the modern world (I'm old, evidently...) is a shame. That said, I don't intend to start talking like a Dickensian character - nobody will understand me and I will fast become lonely. So, because it's Sunday and I'm in a relaxed state pre-working week, I can see the motivation for culling but that doesn't mean it saddens me any less - bit of fence sitting, anyone?

Maybe do a poll and cull those words whose meaning the least people know. Make it a poll of sentimental readers, actually, just to be on the safe side...and limit the amount of the cull, obviously...maybe 100 words maximum...every 100 years...

What are your favourite words? What word makes your ears hurt? Any thoughts on word culling?!