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Sticks and Stones...Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011, at 8:59 PM
Being a writer and journalist, words are my "stock and trade". They are my air brushes with which I paint my castles in the sky. Words are so powerful. They can be caresses or weapons, so they must be used carefully with full meaning understood.
But during the last decade, Americans have begun using words in exaggerating terms. Hyperbole is the name of the game. This is especially true among the youth of our nation and advertizers.
When I first began writing, back in the sixties, adjectives were chosen very carefully. My fellow writers and I would hunt the Roget's Thesaurus for just the perfect words.
But now, one venerable term, "awesome", is used to describe almost everything without regard for the subject. For those who misuse this truly wonderful adjective, awesome means sacred or astonishing. Now really, how does that apply to a hamburger?
It doesn't. No, kids, the adjective awesome should only describe the Grand Canyon, The Great Pyramid, the Sistine Chapel or any other breath taking sight. The term relates to the act of dropping your jaw in amazement at the wonder of it all. Please stop cheapening this truly remarkable word by using it to describe mundane things.
Then there is the term "like" which is used in almost every sentence spoken by teens to people in their twenties. Here's an example. "Hey man, like I'm so nervous about meeting my girlfriend's parents." Why is the word "like" used in this sentence? It doesn't belong in the statement. It doesn't clarify the intention of the sentence and here's why. The word "like" has several meanings depending if it's being used as a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. It might mean equivalent, approximate, identical or similar. It could also mean love or enjoy or savor. If it is just thrown into a sentence for no reason, who knows what is intended? But if it's "teen speak", well then most young folk grow out of awkward phraseology in time.
However, the misuse of "awesome" and "like" has continued on past the teen years in America. I even hear parents using these words incorrectly. I guess they are attempting to be "in" or "hip" in their children's world. How silly.
At any rate, I challenge all English teachers to attempt to cure your pupils of these verbal iniquities.
Please point out to your students that expressing themselves in an understandable manner is very important in life.
And to the students of Eureka Springs and elsewhere, using the correct grammar is not something that just "brown noses" employ. There are good reasons for speaking well. It can make the difference in being hired for a job, or making a good impression with your girlfriend's parents. And finally, it could earn you an "A" grade on your next essay and/or early placement in the college of your choice. Now, that could be considered slightly awesome.
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I'm Enid. No, not the town in Oklahoma, but a transplant to Eureka Springs from Minneapolis fourteen years ago. I'm a writer, journalist and sometime artist. My real love is expressing my opinions on almost any subject, as you have seen in my many letters to the Editor of The Lovely County Citizen over the years. Now, I'm happy to say that I will be writing a blog titled In a Twist for your amusement, amazement or commiseration. Thanks for giving me a read.