Today I started reading a book called “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies” by Marylin Chandler McEntyre. She talks about how words seem to have lost or are losing their worth in a culture where everything is based around exaggeration, propaganda and marketing. She laments the misuse of words such as when young people use the words “like” and “whatever” far too frequently and in the wrong places. I am entirely guilty of this misuse in my speech. I know proper grammatical constructs, and I think I have a larger than average vocabulary, but I speak like a buffoon (awesome word).
It’s interesting that I speak one way and write another way. When I am writing less formal pieces, people will often say that I “sound” like myself, but when I speak I use so many erroneous words and phrases that I often have to take considerable time and think things through very carefully before I say them. This is partly why I dislike giving oral presentations. I know that I can sound far more thoughtful and convincing in writing rather than speech.
I dislike arguing very much for this reason. In writing I can look things up and present my point of view in a well informed and logical way, but I am not good at responding to arguments from others “off the top of my head.” In speech I think I also tend to repeat myself sometimes. When I run out of ideas I just hold on to whatever happened to be my strongest one and try to hold it up like a shield as best I can.
McEntyre’s book was not entirely a rant about the misuse of language. She also talks about how people should step back and enjoy words for what they are. She mentions that people often say to her, “I like the word, ‘pie,'” for example, for no other reason than it sounds nice.
Some of my personal favorite words are:
Most of these I like for the way they sound. I know what they mean, and some of them are not good, but they are fun to say, which is why I can put “bucket” and “totalitarian” in the same list.
Well, I should get back to work. I’ll have another tangent for another time.