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Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on the use of language.

1. I have, thousands of times, heard of people who were nonchalant, nondescript, nonplussed, or non compos mentis. I have, however, never heard of anyone being chalant, descript, plussed, or compos mentis. Has our society grown so negative that the positive versions of words are disappearing while the negative versions remain?

2. Have we forgotten about opposites? There are people who are wrathful, hateful, and vengeful but none are wrathless, hateless, or vengeless. We have people who are feckless, hapless, reckless, and ruthless, but there is no one who is feckful, hapful, reckful, or ruthful. And if pro and con are opposites, what's the opposite of progress?

3. I am annoyed by the use of the word "hero." A hero is someone who risks or sacrifices something for some greater purpose, such as risking his life to save others or risking his career to speak truth to power. I hate hearing about "sports heroes" (although "sports legends" are fine). I am tired of hearing about someone who is "a hero" who didn't really risk anything, but just did their assigned job very well. Such a person might be a role model or a paragon, but not a hero.

4. No word annoys me more (when it's misused) than "decimated." The word means that ten percent of the group were killed. You might stretch the point to say that ten percent of some object or group of objects (perhaps houses) were destroyed. But one football team does not decimated another (not without breaking a few rules and laws and leaving dead bodies on the field).

5. Listen up, people. The word "strenGth" has a G in it! A G! It is not "strenth"! Same thing for lenGth.

6. The phrase "I'm just saying" has come into the language but many don't realize it's actual meaning. One guy on television said it was a magic spell to keep people from being upset about what they said. The real meaning is that it's short for "I'm just saying what we all know is true." So when you say something that upsets someone, don't say "I'm just saying" unless you know what you said that upset them was pure fact.