Desert Musings

Willow's Wonderings

A personal blog because I can't seem to stop making them.

Not a single word

If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?

And I mean that. There isn’t a single word in the entirety of any language, anywhere, that I would ban from general usage. I mean, that’s a presumptuous question to ask, isn’t it? Like I know there are people out there who get all butt-hurt over words and phrases. Hell, Weird Al made a whole song about it Word Crimes. But here’s the thing, people use grammar as a divider. When I was a kid, I was told not to use the word ain’t because “only stupid people used that word”. What my mom really meant, was only black people used it. We lived in a neighborhood that was predominantly black. And she correlated black with stupid. My mom was not a nice person.

That was my first memory of a word being used as a divisive means. But if you’ve lived long enough in this world, you’ve probably experienced this yourself, dear reader. Well read people speak differently than those who don’t read as much. People with higher educations tend to use five dollar words more than people who don’t go to college. Pretentious people tend to sprinkle their vocabulary with words they don’t know the meaning of in order to sound “more smart”. And who, dear reader, has not run across the armchair grammar warrior who has made it their job to correct every mistake they come across because… because… *sigh* I dunno why. They just do. I could go on a whole rant about them but I won’t. We’d be here all day. They annoy me.

Anyway, I have a Master’s degree in English. I’ve read more books than you can shake a stick at, and I took every Linguistics class they offered at my college — basically minored in Linguistics. I’ve also read tons of books about language and linguistics just for fun. It’s a subject I find fascinating. Not enough to become a Linguist because there’s a lot of field work, dates, times, and mathematics involved and y’all know how I am with math. That whole Dyscalculia thing. But I dabble, y’all. I dabble. Anyway, I digress. Language interests me. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: Language changes. Everything about it changes. Grammar, spelling, syntax… everything. All language, everywhere. It’s all fluid. Which is why it’s funny to me, how people get all up in arms about… well, language changing.

It’s always changed. Always. And it always will. I really cannot emphasize this enough. We don’t talk the same today than we did when I was a kid forty some odd years ago, and we certainly don’t speak like they did when my parents were kids. Yeah, the basic language is the same, but there are subtle differences. Pick up a novel from a hundred years ago, I’m talking 1920 y’all, and the difference is noticeable. Grab one from the 1800’s and it’s kinda wild. Then go as far back as Shakespeare. It’s really a whole different language — Early Modern English to be exact. And his stuff gets more archaic with each passing generation. Like, I love Shakespeare, don’t get me wrong, but he is not easy to read. And his plays shouldn’t be read. They’re plays they’re meant to be watched! I’ll never understand why they’re assigned as reading assignments. Like, never. But again, I digress.

And let’s talk about words in general. Do you know how words get put in the dictionary, dear reader? They get made up. I’m not joking. A word is created, written down in a book or publication somewhere. And if that word is used enough in the general vernacular, then it’s submitted to the dictionary. Someone looks up where it was first written down, and a definition is made from that. Voilà!, the word is in the dictionary. That’s how it’s always been done since the creation of the dictionary. Dictionaries are a relatively new invention. I read a couple of books about it and honestly, they’re quire interesting, one’s called The Meaning of Everything and another is called The Professor and the Madman. Those aren’t affiliated, feel free to peruse. But they do explain how dictionaries are made. But that, dear reader, is how words are defined.

That process used to take a long time. Like, it took years, sometimes decades for words to get added into the dictionary. With the advent of the Internet, it’s a much faster process. I mean, look at words like google (to search for something online), and meh (expressing a lack of interest or enthusiasm) they were added almost lightning fast in comparison. Even so, people sometimes think the the dictionary is a mysterious and sacred tome . Most people go their whole lives not knowing the process.

And knowing that process is one of the reasons why I would not remove any word from the language, especially my own (because it’s the one I know best). Because the only reason why, say, regardless is considered “a word” but irregardless isn’t despite being in common use, is because the people a the top keep saying it isn’t. If you take nothing else from this post, dear reader, remember this: people write the dictionary. And people are fallible. They take what’s written down and define the words from there. But they also decide what constitutes “proper” words. And those people, generally speaking, are the crème de la crème. So they define those words with a bias. A bias meant to divide people by class, socio-economic station, education, and other means through language.

So yeah, that’s my take on today’s question. I know I rambled a bit. I could go on for days about language. I cut a bunch out, so if it seems a bit disjointed, that’s why. I tried to tidy it up as best I could, but I’m still recovering from being sick and my energy is low. Thanks for reading my ramblings. If you made it this far, I honestly do appreciate it. Take care of yourself, and I’ll talk to you later.

13 responses to “Not a single word”

  1. I would ban “selfie”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Each has their own way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Willow, you are very polite! Enjoy the day.


  2. I started to write something along these lines, but you said it so well, I decided it would be better to just reblog your reply!

    Now… there are phrases that I think make no sense. For instance: “I’m fixin ta”…

    Umm… if it ain’t broke, then you ain’t fixin nada!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE the phrase “I’m fixin’ to” I lived in the South for a couple of decades and I wish I’da picked that one up. Idioms like that are something that just make me smile.

      And they’re not meant to make sense, that’s why they’re idioms. ^_^

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And I love the word “ain’t”. Guess that makes me a “stupid people”. 😏

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Only to people like my mom.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love to say, “Hey, boy” to my dog. My pug. I hope that doesn’t give my neighbors the wrong idea. Oh well, he is a pug and my boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I call my dogs “dude” all of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I call my son “my boy” or “the boy” and he’s a grown-ass awesome young man. But he’ll always be my boy!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You make such an interesting point. Never realized we were using certain words to divide. Guess should have seen it coming. But I see that we all do it in small subtle ways. Guess I can’t undo my answer to this question. But I’ll be careful now. Loved this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you found my post helpful. Thanks for stopping by. Take care!


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About Me

I’m just a person who likes to write things down.

I’m disabled and have a lot of time on my hands. I write about that but try not to whine about it.

I ask you to keep this in mind when reading though, as it does contribute to grammar and/or spelling mistakes that I miss while proofreading.

I’m not a deep thinker nor am I passionate about much of anything, but hey, I’m here…

That’s about it.

So, uh, follow me, I guess? I’m not here to tell you what to do.

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