I frequently run into misuse of words or phrase, all of which bug me. People tend to latch onto a word or phrase not understanding or caring about its true meaning, only because others misuse it.
I ran into a case in point this morning: I can’t wait for (something). For example, “I can’t wait for the next season of (favorite program) to start” or “I can’t wait for vacation.” Unfortunately, he or she will have to wait, because time machines have not been invented. None realizes that speeding up time to fulfill his or her wish will only mean arriving at one’s death quicker. As far as I am concerned, I can wait for that.
If I could, I would point out to these dolts that what they mean to say is “I look forward (with or without the modifier eagerly) to” such and such event.
Proper use of “can’t wait” is when one is served an appealing dish and one is not willing or is not able to be polite enough to wait patiently for others to be served. Small children usually display this urge without bothering with the (almost meaningless) phrase.
I have written about words, because this subject interests me. I have often wondered about spelling of certain words and thought about origins. The below article finally explains some of the factors influencing the English language, so I have learned something in my old age...
Today, I came up with a theory about language. Others may have had the same, but I am not aware of this. I do not plan scientific or scholarly research to prove its validity.
This came about by noticing similarities in words in different languages. This was caused, surely, from a mix of peoples, but does not explain the spelling differences. For example, school in English is Schule in German, with the sch of the former being hard (like squid) and the Sch being soft (like she). The word had to have come from German, because the French equivalent is ecole. Many spelled it phonetically and came up with two o’s to replace the u.
My theory is that the difference came about by people making mistakes. How often do people, especially less-educated or downright stupid ones, make spelling mistakes? Repeat this over time and the mistake becomes the norm...which less-educated and stupid people spell incorrectly.
I recall a lesson learned in geography class. At the time, a rune stone had been discovered in Minnesota, which suggested that Vikings had visited this part of the United States by sailing down the St. Lawrence River, across the Great Lakes, and up local streams. Critics debunked the claim, because they noted grammatical and spelling errors in the Norwegian text. My professor, who was of Norwegian descent offered a logical rebuttal: common sailors are not usually able to speak or write “proper” language. Also, I doubt the Vikings used spell check or included an editor/proofreader in the long boat crew.
Don’t you love how mundane, often rather simple, professions attempt to elevate their importance by taking on a fancy name. People are easily fooled and impressed by words.
Someone that puts powder on the face of people, before they appear on television, is now called a make-up artist”. People that file and polish nails are now “nail technicians”. A hairdresser (for women) and barber (for men) can now call herself or himself a “hair designer” or “hair stylist”.
German is more precise and less malleable. A Visgsist/Visagistin (mail/female version) applies make-up; a Friseur/Friseusin does hair; and a Manicure does nails.
Words are like people: some I like, some I don’t like, and about most I am indifferent.
My new least favorite word is chillax. What a dumb word. Each of the original parts worked just fine, so there is no reason to bastardize either.
I doubt that I will ever use this word, other than in some rant to complain about its stupidity.
If you are interested in language and words, as I am, this little piece might be of interest.
Whereas organisms can evolve from pond scum to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, words can evolve from foppish dandy to the ultimate accolade, greeting, and praise.
Vanity Fair always has a bit about a survey that they conduct each month. This month, one of the questions asked which of five statements someone would most want to read about themselves in their obituary. It would be rather difficult to read one’s obituary, since it appears in newspapers only after death.
It appears that I am not the only one interested in words and language change, which I wrote about yesterday.
Today, I found this article on the same subject, if slightly different. It was interesting to learn that old words don’t die: they end up in a big dictionary. Not unlike fossils imbedded ancient rock, forgotten words can be unearthed by future word paleontologists...if there is or will be such a creature.
Another day at the gym, another strange thought and conclusion...
The former head of the United Nations, Boutras Boutras-Ghali, once said that only stupid people do not change their minds. To prove that I am not stupid, I changed my mind about something today.
I often get upset by misuse of words and change to language, brought on by repeated misuse. I will no longer because, just like with every other aspect of life, there is no right or wrong to language. And, life is change. Over time, everything changes on this planet and has since the beginning (this is an equal opportunity fact, because it applies to science or creationism or intelligent design). Getting upset about minor language issues is a waste of emotion and just plain stupid. It will take me awhile to de-tox, but I will change.
Countless species of flora and fauna have evolved from a single cell (or from two folks in a garden in Iraq). The logical corollary is that myriad languages and innumerable dialects must have evolved from the first peep, squeak, or grunt. It is only natural for them to continue evolving, whether I like it or not. That does not mean that I will tolerate grammatical errors in my or anyone else’s writing. There are rules, you know.
Sometimes a lot…
Take the word crude, which came to mind this morning in the shower while thinking about a recently viewed movie. It has more than one definition, each being a world away form the other.
One definition, which applies to more-and-more to movies (and is often used by foreigners to describe Americans), is “offensively coarse or rude, especially in relation to sexual matters”. I prefer innuendo, which requires more thought and clever use of words. It does not take much talent to be crude, which explains why so many new films are such duds.
Another definition: “In a natural or raw state”. This applies to such things as crudités, a French word for an hors d’oeuvre of uncooked, sliced vegetables used to dip in a sauce. It is rather good. (Sorry for all the French word, but they understand food and subtlety.)
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.