We are killing the English language. I’m not talking about government euphemisms or corporation obfuscation. No, this is ordinary people taking ordinary words and choking the life out of them. Let me demonstrate.
Old — Where did all the old people go? Apparently, they’ve all been rounded up and taken to an over-the-horizon retirement community where they’re enjoying senior living. (I have no idea what that is BTW, but it seems to involve a lot of golf.) They specialize in being “78 years young” (See? We can’t even say the word!) and will eventually be carted off to an Elder Care Facility where … uh … I don’t know. But old people? No. We’ve got seniors and the elderly, but we don’t have any old people anymore.
Fat — Nobody’s fat these days, so unless you’re a supermodel, you have two choices — plus size or obese. Which would you prefer? Plus size makes it quite clear that you missed normal by at least 10 kilos, and the world has a special clothing ghetto for people like you, and obese? Well, that kinda speaks for itself.
Brat — Let’s get real! Not every obnoxious kid on this planet has a diagnosed disability. Sometimes, they’re just brats, but if you want to get into a fistfight, mention the word. It is amazing to me what lengths bad parents will go to, to avoid being called “bad parents” — including saddling their child with an incurable psychological disorder.
Stupid — “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Think about this! Of course there is, and they’re normally asked by stupid people. The Law of Probability alone says half the population of this planet is stupider than the other half. However, use the word to describe someone who is obviously in Group A and you’re liable to get your ass kicked.
Ugly — I truly believe that there are some people in this world who think that, if we don’t actually say the word, ugly people won’t know they’re ugly.
Died — When I was a kid, people died. It was a harsh reality of life. Then, suddenly, people quit dying and began passing away (like sugar dissolving in the rain.) It’s a cute idea, but honestly, when someone goes headfirst through the windshield, “he passed away” doesn’t really describe it. And, of course, these days, folks don’t even pass away anymore; they merely pass (as if it were a spelling test.) The #1 preoccupation of literature, religion, philosophy and life itself, and we’ve reduced it to this bullshit? How bland has our existence become?
This is the language of Shakespeare, Blake and Yeats — have some respect. But the real problem is, as we continue to drown our language in mild, we’re starting to think that way and that scares the hell out of me.