October 14, 2010 at 8:13 am
I can’t get used to the year 2010 being pronounced as “twenty ten.” I’ve heard newscasters use it and radio announcers say it, and the new default WordPress theme is even called Twenty Ten. It’s everywhere, and it seems so odd to me even though it shouldn’t. I was used to saying “nineteen ninety” or “nineteen eighty-two” which use the same structure. But when we rolled all four numbers over into a new century we were suddenly saying “two thousand this” and “two thousand that.” It seems strange to go back to the old way now.
At least we’re in a decade that actually has a name. It’s the teens, right? Like how we had the nineties and the eighties and the seventies before that? I find it fascinating and sort of scary that when we entered the years 2000-2009—BOOM!—the word to describe the current decade disappeared from our language, and no one made a big deal about it. It was like someone had stolen all the forks in the world and we just made due [...]
September 28, 2010 at 8:14 am
Photo by sillygwailo / by NCND 2.0 CC
“Sweeeeet!” I said, and before I’d struck the final syllable I thought, Dear Lord, when did the word “sweet” enter my vocabulary? Then I remembered how fat I’ve been for most of my life and realized the word “sweet” probably entered my vocabulary before I was tall enough to grab ice cream out of the freezer. But I was not using the word to describe the taste of cupcakes or the unexpected kindness of a friend. No, I was stretching out the “ee” in the middle as if my lower jaw were arthritic and needed extra time to swoop in to make the sound. I was using the word as if it were substitution for “Narly!” or “Rad!” or some other slang from a subculture I do not belong to. I began using it sometime in the past few months, and every time I do I feel as though my mouth as been possessed by a ventriloquist.
I know many books and doctoral dissertations have been written about the [...]
February 23, 2007 at 9:38 am
As much as I enjoy writing, I must admit the English language has many failings. For instance, why isn’t there a gender neutral pronoun besides “it”? Calling someone “it” is either derogatory or means he/she (see my problem here?) is an insane clown that lives in the sewers. You’ve got “he” and “she,” but no word to refer to someone when you don’t know his/her gender. Typically you end up pluralizing the entire sentence so you can use “they” which can be awkward and sometimes sounds stupid.
I also propose that we need a new word to describe someone who is not fat, but isn’t thin either. There are already words that have submitted their resumes for fulfilling this role in the English language, like “curvy” or “full-figured” or “healthy.” But they come off sounding like euphemisms for “fat” which in our culture is pretty much a euphemism for “ugly.” When I wrote about Tyra Banks a couple weeks ago I said she had “some meat on [her] bones” which sound like I’m comparing her to [...]