The following thoughts about language are mine. They might not be yours.
From time to time, I write about words. Usually, I’m thinking about the misuse of certain words, or the gradual bastardization of a word that then becomes something other than what it truly means.
For example – awesome. Awe is a powerful emotion: ‘A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder.’ Therefore, if someone is filled with awe…well, that’s simply wondrous. Of course, ‘awesome’ has been bastardized into something people routinely use in any circumstance.
“I finished writing my paper.” “Awesome!”
“I had an apple for lunch.” “Awesome!”
You get the picture.
Or, literally – which is the opposite of ‘figuratively.’ Right? But now, it has come to mean not literally, but figuratively. As in ‘I literally died when I saw him walk in the room!’ No, you didn’t. You figuratively died when you saw him walk in the room. You used the word incorrectly.
But no more. Now dictionaries are including a definition that includes ‘figuratively.’ So, apparently it’s okay to misuse the word. But why is it okay? If enough people misuse it, it’s okay? If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone on television misuse that word, I would be a wealthy woman.
Don’t get me started. I refuse to partake.
What’s irritating me today? (I can be such a curmudgeon!)
Maker. You must have seen it on blogs. Instead of using a specific word, such as ‘artist’ or ‘crafter’ or ‘quilter’ or ‘potter’ or ‘knitter’ or ‘oil painter’ or ‘furniture designer’ or ‘builder,’ we are now seeing the word ‘Maker.’ Everywhere.
Oh, please. It sounds incredibly pretentious.
And furthermore, really? I don’t understand. Does that mean because I make messes, make mistakes, make coffee, make someone happy, make up time, make myself crazy, make a sandwich, that I’m a Maker? Wow.
Technically, this isn’t a misuse. No, someone decided to coin this word, thinking it was better than the perfectly fine words already in use, and everyone has jumped on the bandwagon because we’re in the world of blogs. Which is also a new word, but in this case, it was coined to define something entirely new in this age of computers. So that’s okay.
Do me a favor. Please do not call me a Maker. I create, yes. I like to make scarves by crocheting them; crocheting being the actual activity, which is different than, for example, painting in water colors.
I like to quilt, knit, crochet, work on miniatures, work on my dollhouse. But I refuse to be a Maker.
And, I have a particular pet peeve with the word gifted. This particular use of the noun ‘gift’ started to show itself several years ago and it drives me nuts! You give a gift. You give a present. Someone gave me a gift for my birthday. It was a gift, given to me by my students. Thank you for the gift of your time. Thank you for the wonderful gift that you chose for me.
The verb is ‘to give.’ The action is giving.
Please do not ‘gift’ me with anything. Yes, I know that, once again, dictionaries are including this as a usage simply because it has become so prevalent in everyday use.
But not me. I can promise you that I will never ‘gift’ you with anything. I would love to give you a gift. Or present you with a gift. Or choose the perfect gift for you.
Yes, I know that language changes, that it morphs over time. After all, I work with words for a living. I get it. However, in my little world, I have strong feelings about its misuse as well as cutesy, pretentious terms for things that have perfectly adequate, and quite specific, names already.
Sometimes it just feels good to get on my little soapbox. I have to get these thoughts out. Don and I talk about this sort of thing all the time.
Since these thoughts are my personal language pet peeves, how about sharing some of yours? I bet you’ll point out things I hadn’t even thought of.