Words Matter

Anyone else notice a general lack of attention being duly paid to the words and phrases we are using from day to day? The vernacular is being systematically pared down on one hand, while words are being repositioned or invented on the other.

We’re certainly not against a colorful vocabulary, but we’re aware that some words are falling into disuse or abuse and we’d like to remedy that situation, in some circumstances.

So here’s a list of words we’d prefer to start hearing and reading to return us all to a gentler, more beautiful world.

Napsack

Messenger bags are so 2005. Backpacks belong on hikes and camping trips. If you want to haul around your crap, you need a napsack, because nothing says “I’m working hard!” like a nap.

The Vapors

When women were gentile and not insisting on equal pay for equal work, the mere mention of a man’s bathroom area gave them “the vapors.” Usually, a mint julep was called for, and we believe the world would be a better place with more mint juleps.

Veranda

Porches, decks and stoops cannot begin to compare with verandas. Even patios pale in comparison. It doesn’t matter what sort of construction you have surrounding the outer edge of your domicile, we believe you should start referring to it as a veranda, and then smoke a Cuban cigar there while commenting on modern art.

Theatre

People have been mispronouncing this word for ages – simply ages! It isn’t ‘THEE-uh-ter,’ it’s ‘thee-EIGHT-er.’ Try it on for size. “Stella, Gertrude and I are attending the theatre this evening! I cahn’t wait to see Helen Hayes – the first lady of American thee-EIGHT-er!”

Oriental

Remember when the Orient was fabulous? Remember when ‘fabulous’ meant “other-worldly?” Nowadays, mention Asia and all you think about is tsunamis and sweat shops – which is not to say that the idea of a tsunami inundating a city of sweatshops isn’t romantic, but we’d rather think of a place that’s so weird and amazing that eating tentacles and pig guts doesn’t mean heading to the corner sushi place. It’s generally taken to be a racist term, equating people to rugs, but we think it just needs some finessing and someone like David Chang to start a restaurant called “Oriental Pig” to bring it back into favor.

Bully

Another word that needs an overhaul. ‘Bully’ now refers generally to some gaggle of screeching harpies at finishing school who taunt a girl so badly that she ends up hanging from the rafters during choir practice. But it used to mean “great!” as in, “You’re a bully chap!” or “What a bully napsack!” Bully!

Bohemian

“Liberals” are being placed into a category of persons who want to romp about naked, making love to anything that moves, giving money to artists who paint with their nether regions and drinking odd concoctions of herbal remedies that also cause heightened libidos and dazed sensibilities. We used to call these people Bohemians. Let’s give that a try, shall we?

Pants

Did you know that in more civilized countries where they elect Communists and Tories, ‘pants’ are the things you wear underneath your pants? Thus, it is also used as a pejorative to describe anything that is less than adequate, i.e. “That play last night was pants, but Helen Hayes was bully as the Oriental!”

Fortnight

If you’re fully employed in these economically challenging times (lucky you!), it’s possible that you’re paid biweekly, which means every two weeks and not every other week, which can be confusing, can it not? A fortnight is fourteen days – or, perhaps more accurately, fourteen nights. Isn’t it more exciting and mysterious to say you’re paid fortnightly, as if it’s some weird holiday that no one else knows about? Plus, eliminating the word ‘biweekly’ will also reduce confusion about your sexuality, you bohemian.

Stentorian

The words means “extremely loud,” as in, “I do wish those horrible stentorian Harley riders would all explode in a conflagration of fiery destruction.”

Charmed

This is not, as some would have it, a television show running perennially on TBS about three witches in San Francisco who hate each other. Rather, being ‘charmed’ is something you are when meeting a new acquaintance. You can also be charming, which is more polite than being “a blast,” which we believe sounds as if you just farted.

These are just a few suggestions to spice up your conversations and brighten up those email correspondences that you frequently send. Feel free to add your own in the comments, so everyone can begin to converse in polite company without quite so many “fucks.”

This is glassdog, where words are as important as the people who misuse them!

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