Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Discussion About Words

I've intentionally left the goal of this blog to be pretty vague, in order to accommodate the various whims that hit me from time to time, but overall I've always intended this to be a place where I can talk about stories, in all their various incarnations.  What makes a story can be pretty vague, which has allowed me a greater playground, so to speak.

Today, however, I want to talk about something only tangentially related to story-telling--yes, even more so than when I spent a month making fun of Silent Hill: Homecoming.  I want to talk about words.

Most people have certain words that simply bother them.  I'm not talking about things like racial slurs--they bother people because they are hateful words--but more about words that simply sound wrong.  For instance, I've heard from many sources that "moist" is a word that just makes people uncomfortable.  It sounds wet and damp, like something living in a cave.  Moist doesn't really bother me, but it's not a word I'd use unless I was talking about a particularly well made cake.  Doesn't that sound lovely, a nice, moist cake?  Mmmmm, moist.

At any rate, there are other words that do raise my hackles--for some reason they just don't feel right, they roll off the tongue in a strange way, or they conjure up unintentionally negative mental images.  For a lot of them, it's because they're words I naturally associate with something a small child would say--so when I hear an adult use them, it make me uncomfortable.  Observe.

Word: Tasty
"Oh, did you have some of Mrs. Partridge's cake?  It was ever so tasty."
I am certain that Mrs. Partridge makes a rather exceptional cake.  I am also rather certain that she wouldn't want you to go around besmirching the good name of her cakes with a word like tasty.  All I can hear when someone says this word is the sound of lips smacking together wetly.

Word: Morsel
"Thank you, but I'll just have a morsel."
This word is only acceptable if you are a mouse that can talk.  Unless you are describing the sorts of things that you eat to your human friend, Stuart Little, then do us all a favor and say "a little bit" or "a small bite".
Bonus points: You can describe something as "A tasty morsel" if you'd really like to see my face turn red at a party.

Word: Nibble
"I'll just have a nibble of this tasty little morsel".
Fuck you and die.

 Word: Tummy
"I'd love some cheese, but it upsets my tummy so."
I have a six year old who has learned to say "belly" instead of "tummy" and she's so cutesy that she shits rainbow-colored sprinkles.  You're not prettying up your gastro-intestinal distress by calling them "tummy troubles".  Trust me, we all know you have the shits.  Just say stomach, please.

Word: Hubby
"Delilah, have you met my hubby? "
For moral reasons, I object to being forced to picture a grown man being married to a small child.  "Hubby" is fun though, because even though it sounds like a word that a small child would use, it's also a word that is not used by any small child, ever.   "Hubby" is like the verbal version of PDA--this couple wants you to know that they're ever so cutesy and in love, even if they can't make out like teenagers all the time teehee!
Bonus points: Find a couple where the wife says hubby and the husband says wifey or little woman.  No, please, find these couples for me.  I want to make a nasty facebook page about them.

Word: Yummy
"Wasn't that avocado and bean sprout salad just yummy?!"
Every time I hear a grown person say yummy I expect them to then lean over and ask me if I'd like to be mummy's little helper after lunch.

Word: Cuz
"Well I said that cuz I didn't want him showing up."
This one's a bit harder because I don't object to the verbal version of it--a shortened version of "because".  I say it all the time.  There's two ways to indicate that you are using the shortened version of "because" in writing though, and one of them is 'cause and the other is cuz.  Is it the zed that bothers me?  It is how the word has almost zero relation to its parent?  Is it because Andrew Dobson says it?  The world will never know.

That's my list for now, but I'll add to it as I think of things.  In the meantime, what are some words that bother you for reasons you can't adequately describe?


  1. "Moist" gives me goosebumps, but not in a good way. "Phlegm" is another one that just...ugh.

    The current most irritating word, to me, is "technically", because my 12-year-old precludes every other sentence with it, even when said sentence has nothing, in any way, related to anything technical.

    I also hate it when people use big fancy words, but pronounce them completely, and repeatedly, wrong.

    Also businesses that spell shit wrong on their signage.

    I'll stop now. :)

  2. When do you NEED to shorten "because" in writing? How long would it take to type those four extra letters? Like a second? GRR

  3. cuz prolly ur 2 tired.

    "alot" has always chapped my ass. i live in New England, if i hear "most importantly" one more time i'm going to stab people in the necks with titanium sporks.

  4. I'm okay with a tasty morsel, but really, that kind of phrasing needs to be used under very, very specific circumstances. It's really hard to pull off if you're not channeling Samuel L Jackson.

  5. Luxury. Luxurious. Lap of luxury.

    It makes me feel lie I've got slime wrapped around every cell. Graarrrggh yuck.

    I'm a weirdo, though, so...oh well.