Sunday, October 08, 2006

some words that I dislike

These are words that I think are misused or worn out or should otherwise be discarded:

plight - outdated and hysterical-sounding, usually applied to a collection of people, sounds like a big cow-pie of trouble
suggestion: be more specific about what the problem is - poverty? disease? war? talk about it (but don't say "war-torn" or "poverty-stricken.")

infrastructure - used to describe any services that we or someone else don't have enough of, as in "infrastructure problems."
suggestion: be specific - say "The sewers are wearing out. We need new pipes." or "There aren't enough doctors and nurses at the hospital so people are waiting too long for surgery."

strife - in the same category as plight. With the exception of the plant name, purple loosestrife, I think we should nuke this word. Used mostly in poems and songs, when people can't think of a better rhyme for "life."
suggestion: get a life, find a better rhyme

solutions - as in "business solutions" or what I saw on a sign today "specialty coffee solutions." As if all of your problems can be solved by the right software - or apparently the right caffeinated drink.
suggestion: call it what it is - "business software systems" or "coffee"

concerning to me - as in "It is concerning to me that the school district may cancel programs because of the ruling on school fees." Do you mean, "disconcerting?"
suggestion: be concerned and use the right word

Honest, I am not grumpy today, I am thankful and happy and well-rested for a change. Wrong words are just frustrating me because they distance the speaker and the listener from the real meaning. Most often, a simpler, more direct approach is better.

question: what bugs your ears?

mompoet - going to quietly eat my turkey now, having blown off some steam.


Lazy Daisy said...

As a poet I can see why you wouldn't like these words....they evoke a rather sterile response. They all sound political or stagnant to me.

Most of these words are used for political double talk. Is it the words themselves or the concept they evolk?

mompoet said...

Daisy, I think its some of both. Whenever a word is used to hide meaning, or the meaning is twisted intentionally, I feel resentful. Perfectly good words like "creative" and "resources" have been usurped to put a sunny spin on cuts to social services funding. "Best practices" is another awful favourite, now used to describe diverting money from doing real good to funding analyses of how it should be done which usually results in more restrictions and less flexibility.

On the other hand, some words are just so lame that I feel sorry for the person who uses them. It's like the speaker/writer doesn't think enough of him/herself to really think about what he/she is trying to convey. Instead of saying something real and maybe awkward or beautiful or provocative, he/she plunks in "strife" or "plight" or one of the many words ending in "ation" whose meaning has been blurred by over-use.

Finally, some words are just ugly, the verbal equivalent of chartreuse lampshades with mustard fringe.

I know I'm a nit-picky reader and listener. I certainly don't want to tell people not to talk or write freely because I might find fault with what they are doing. I am tuned into words. I love them. They are beautiful and powerful and can be used for such good. I don't like it when they're wasted or twisted or just lost.

That's my blurt about words. Thanks for asking, Daisy, and sorry for the long response.