Do you ever get like that? No? You’re Suzie Sunshine all the flippen’ time and hand out cookies and never EVER want to just punch someone in the mouth or swat them on the back of the head? I don’t really ever want to punch anyone in the mouth (tho I have had fantasies of putting alum in their oatmeal) because I have dainty little arthritic hands and that would hurt, I do, however, swat people (usually under the age of 30, and who are immediate offspri…I mean…family members) on the back of the head or glare at them over the top of my glasses.
Anyway, where was I?
Irritable. No, I am not irritable, but it seems like the rest of the world is doing their darndest to get all over my nerves.
(Ok Rootie, what now?)
It’s words, and the misuse and overuse of them. Particularly of superlatives. We exaggerate, don’t we. Like, o my goodness, will you look at that cute dress (that is, in my crotchety estimation, WAY TOO SHORT) that young girl (betcha a dollar she isn’t wearing bloomers, neither), it’s AWESOME!
Really? Awesome? It inspires breathtaking wonder (well ok, maybe if you’re a 13 yr old boy,…) and inspires you to feel awe? I am not in awe of anyone’s legs. The closest I ever came to that was when Himself showed up at a college thing 28 years ago, in those early ’80’s white tennis shorts with the legs of a construction worker…they were HIS legs. If they were someone else’s legs and he was carrying them, “awe” is not the first thing I would have felt ok YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. good grief.
What inspires awe? A deep canyon with a sunset happening. The ocean. A retrospective of a life well lived. The idea of a Savior.
What doesn’t inspire awe? pretty much anything man-made. I can be impressed, but not awestruck.
Another word WAY overused… horrific. It’s become quite the thing to describe most anything unpleasant as horrific.
What do you think of when the word “horrific” is used? I think of massive carnage. Body parts. Human behavior that is beyond the standards of the average felon…stuff like cannibalism or mass rape or lining people up and shooting them in the head or gas chambers. That’s horrific. Seriously, as bad as it is, someone subjected to several hours of being detained at an airport, even under suspicion of being a terrorist, unless they’re whipped and jailed and force fed through their nose…it’s bad, yes. It is something that could even be called horrible. But horrific? the ultimate in terrible things that could happen? No.
When my kids are fearful of something (o no! what could happen??) I ask them to consider “what is the VERY WORST thing that could happen? I don’t mean the very worst PLAUSIBLE thing, but the VERY WORST EVER THEY CAN POSSIBLY CONCEIVE OF thing. Then I ask them how likely is that to happen, and if that doesn’t happen, then they’re going to be ok.
Usually, it is in relationship to some other person. They’re afraid of asking for something, like a raise or a day off. I say what’s the worst thing, and they waffle. Then I say “the worst thing is they could pull out a gun and shoot you between the eyes. But, that’s pretty unlikely. Most likely, the worst thing is they’ll say no.”
It’s all about perspective. The problem with the overuse and misuse of superlatives, is that once they’re used, you have no place to go beyond that. If a highly inconvenient yet not-resulting-in-death even is horrific, what do you call it when someone is detained, then beaten, then drawn-and-quartered? Horrificker? Really, really horrific? Do you just keep adding “really” in front of words to emphasize the strength of their meaning?
In the Bible, words are repeated to emphasize the meaning. Sometimes Jesus will say “truly truly” to mean “now listen here, this is absolutely important stuff, y’all.” When the angels are singing, and go “Holy, holy holy” it means “Ok y’all listen up, we’re singing about God and He isn’t just kinda important, but He ranks THREE holies, which means He’s WAY more important than anything else.”
So is that what we need to do in our language? Add a buncha reallys onto everything that’s been used up?
Do I get to be one of those crotchety old people who resent the evolution of language (which I always tried to explain to my own crotchety parents when they griped about the lexicon of my generation?)? Of course I do, especially when it’s so obviously WRONG and MISUSED.
It’s horrific, I’m telling you, the way young people these days…awful. Awesomely bad. Breathtakingly, mind boggling and jawdroppingly horrific.
really really really. Literally.