"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Tuesday 5 April 2011

The Power Of Words

A thought ran through my head. The word dearth came to mind. I found myself thinking...  that's probably another word, the word police believe shouldn't be used . 

Because it's not familiar .

Because it sounds like something else.

Because we live in a  time when  people of  little  moment   suggest  a word  similar to another   should  have its meaning stolen and substituted for something else. .

The behavior is  a relic of the recent past, when  ignorance of some members was  such  as to be  totally  ignorant of their own ignorance but being assembled in numbers, completely confident of their own erudition, had they even  known what the word meant.

Anachronism is a word heard recently.  I had been meaning to look it up in the dictionary. I use the book  for accurate spelling. I acquired my vocabulary mainly from voluminous  reading and from a pure love of the language I speak.

I hear music in the cadence of  language. I cringe  to a malapropism as with  flat note in music. Or with a word ending with  ng pronounced as  nk. I cannot understand how a person reaches maturity without learning to pronounce something or  anything  properly. Is that a speech impediment..or what?

Anachronism means " a person or thing that is chronologically out of place: one from a former age that is incongruous in the present".

How can that  be applied to a word in a living language  How can  language not be living.

Like  great river is a moving body of water.

It starts with a gurgle, flows and twists and turns and gathers strength and  roars and swirls and eddies and whirls into a pool,  murmurs and rages and  tumbles in a waterfall and races out to the sea.

Many words  are not used in everyday  language. Beautiful words. Words which perfectly suit their purpose. Words which convey  a thought completely. Promote laughter. Prompt tears. Words which reduce  excess verbiage tenfold. Words not used because of a lack of a sense of self. Or  joy in life.

Time-worn words never fade in their meaning.  Never fail to comfort or scourge.

Where did  words come from. How were they formed . Like diamonds or pearls. 

They are found treasure,  free for the taking by anyone and  everyone with the inclination or  courage.

No license  required. No permit needed. We live in a time and place and culture  where  the  law guarantees  our right to free  use of our language.

Imagine a time when that was not true.  There are those unwilling to accept it still

We  also have among us  unlikely self -important, self- appointed arbitrators of the use of words.

It is their right  to portray themselves  exactly as  they are.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the differences you're thinkinK of are cultural/dialectial, and not a case of mispronounciation. I say tomato, you say tomahto. Look at how different English speakers pronounce the word water. Wadder. WOHter. Watter.

Different strokes for different folks? I agree that language is very much a beautiful living, changing, breathing thing.

Anonymous said...

"I hear music in the cadence of language. I cringe with a malapropism as with flat note. Or with a word ending with a g pronounced as a k. I cannot understand how a person can reach maturity without learning to pronounce something or anything properly. Is that a speech impediment..or what?"

What a nasty thing to say!

You are talking about someone's dialect or accent. I cringe when I hear a Scot roll their "R"s. But that does not mean that they have a speech impediment!

I know that you are of course referring to the former Mayor with this post, very bad form Ms Buck!

Goodie two shoes said...

I never even thought of the past Mayor when reading this post. I was just enjoying it until I read Anonymous' comment and then I thought of the "Clark" instead of the "Clerk". Might like to rethink your comment Anonymous since you were the one who made me think of the Past Mayor and Not Mrs. Buck's post.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous
Actually the ex mayor had many language foibles that grated. Surely you remember "Miss King-uh."
I am so grateful that her term as town clerk was short-lived. I don't think I could have tolerated listening to that for months.

Anonymous said...

I think that is "Mrs." Buck...

or "Missus" Buck if you prefer ;)

Or is the use of Mrs. another anachronism that may offend people?

Would not likely offend Mrs. Buck!

Anonymous said...


WTH - dearth?

Your Ode to the Power, Beauty and Complexity of language is apparently causing grievous linguistic and mental malaise to someone.

Where does this person pitch its camp?

People of shallow depth seem somehow incapable of drowning, even in the slightest puddle.

Perhaps we should all revert to Latin, where the rules are stricter, and the language itself, several thousands of years old, might be used with greater exactitude.

We have much in common with the ancient Romans, replete with that greatest of entertainments for the masses, the circus.

Aurora has seen much of this the past few years.

Very nice form Ms Buck said...

"I know that you are of course referring to the former Mayor with this post, very bad form Ms Buck"

the paranoia appears to have set in deep,

By the way, there's nothing sweeter than the sound of a Scot rolling their RRRRRRs

Anonymous said...

Just think. If there weren't any variations in how language sounds, impressionists would have nothing to mimic and make us laugh!

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 12:45, 5 April 2011

I am pretty sure that Miss "King-uh" was the town "clark".

Anonymous said...

In the course of conducting my business today, I was waiting in an office for the person with whom I had an appointment. While gazing around, I noticed an office door with a name plate on it. The name on the plate was: Mr. D. Nigro.
Such horror! What outrage! Where are the language police when you need them?
Imagine posting a name that is similar to a word that should never be used (according to Mr. Ballard, Aurora's expert etymologist - tongue in cheek of course).
I could not believe that the man had the gall to live his whole life without changing his name! Lucky he does not live in Aurora, Ontario's unfriendly town! He would have been tweeted and condemned!