Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In a Word

I love the English language. My interest in language is so great that sometimes I have to resist the urge to correct others. Ask my wife, and she’ll probably say that I am obsessed with the English language. MP900341479

Here’s a free tip for you young guys: “Never correct your wife’s grammar unless you are wearing protective gear.”

Come back here. I am not going to lecture you about grammar. Quick! What is the object of the preposition in that last sentence?

Just kidding.

What is most fascinating to me about language is the power it packs. The words we choose can make others happy, sad, glad, angry, calm or violent. With words we can make others smile, frown, laugh, cry or even sleep.

Consider these examples and notice how you feel towards the individual based on their statements:

  1. I’m so friggin’ pissed off about these high taxes!
  2. I’m very mad about these high taxes.
  3. I’m miffed about these high taxes.

So I am thinking the first guy needs to have a long chat with his friend Jack Daniels and sleep it off; you probably don’t want to talk about the high taxes with him unless you are wearing that protective gear I mentioned earlier. The second person is probably going to cut you off in traffic, flip the bird at the mailman, and kick the dog. However, person number three seems approachable, although his statement might make you secretly giggle.

What if you introduced me to your sister and later asked me what I thought of her? What if I said, “Man, she is butt ugly!” Uh-oh, protective gear time. Okay, how about, “Your sister is okay, but she’s not very attractive.” Well, sometimes honesty is not the best policy, is it? Instead, what if I answered, “You know, your sister is a good person, but she’s not my type.” Enough said.

Have you ever heard that commercial claiming a product can improve your English? The announcer says, “People judge you by the way you speak.” That is so true. People will also react to you according to the way you choose words.

I think American Southerners are among the best at wise word choice. Take for example what a friend’s wife once said to me:

“Scooter, you have a face that only a mother could love.”


My reaction to her words was a smile. The next morning, I woke up and realized what she said. I remember blurting out, “She called me ugly!” Of course, she never used the word ‘ugly,’ and she said it with 101020-181403a smile on her face. Yes, it was an insult, but it was so skillfully uttered that my reaction was extremely delayed. Granted, she probably didn’t need to say anything at all about my looks, but at least she didn’t friggin’ piss me off!

Nah, I was just a bit peeved.


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