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 this is BTW, but it seems to involve a lot of manicured lawns, plastic patio furniture and drugs.) Then, one day, magically, they all become elderly and get carted off to an Elder Care Facility where … uh … I don’t know … we never hear from them again. But old people? No, our world doesn’t have any old people.
Fat — Nobody’s fat these days, so unless you’re a supermodel, you have three choices — plus size, curvy and we’re not going to talk about it. Apparently, the world believes that if we don’t actually say the word, people won’t know when their pants don’t fit anymore.
Brat — Let’s get real! Not every obnoxious kid on this planet has a diagnosed illness. 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 lynched by a Twitter mob.
Ugly — I’m not even going to go there.
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.
Originally written January, 2016 and gently edited
2 thoughts on “Killing English”
Thanks for making my Tuesday just a bit better!
Where did the old people go? Well, a lot of them were the ‘frail elderly’ and they died ‘with or from Covid’ … as did quite a few ‘obese’ people, a term that seems just as bad as ‘fat’. As for stupid, apparently a great number of people who are well educated are also kind of stupid too. As for ‘Brat’ – my three kids were brats sometimes, for sure. Which leaves ugly… also not going to go there.
This is great, and I couldn’t agree more. I want to scream every time I hear that someone “passed”. Passing used to be a reason to celebrate, not grieve. Of course, now we have ‘Celebrations of Life” instead of funerals. It seems to me that euphemisms are the foundation of societal decay because they are predicated on some degree of dishonesty and breed intolerance for the truth. (I hope that doesn’t sound hyperbolic.) When I think of “safe zones” in universities, it seems accurate to me.