Monday, October 01, 2012

Words on the way out

I’ve already said I’m not using the words ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ anymore (not that I did use them anyway), because they are so overused they are emptied of meaning. There are lots of other words that could get a run and describe more clearly what we mean: fit, attractive, pretty, glamorous, aroused, and so on.

I’ve also stopped using the word ‘lame’ unless I’m describing someone who can’t walk. I think it is unfair to use the word ‘lame’ as shorthand for an idea that is unworkable, or a joke that falls flat. It’s like saying something is ‘gay’ as an insult. Not on. As we’ve seen in the paralympics, even the lame aren’t lame. So lets just leave it out.

I’m adding another one. ‘Inappropriate’. An overused word that is code for something more specific that we aren’t saying. Especially when talking about issues around protecting children. I realised this when we were talking about how to teach children what songs may or may not be suitable to play in a primary school. Telling children that some songs are ‘inappropriate’ doesn’t give them any direction. We need to be more specific, not just in this case, but, I’ve observed, whenever we use the word. We could say that something is not consistent with policy, or is hurtful or damaging, or unsuitable because, or simply not what we want. ‘Inappropriate’ has had its day, and is on the way out. 

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