Words 3/31/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Every once in a while, somebody will post words and phrases that are no longer in use in the English language.  Often, they’re quite humorous, and sometimes one wonders why these words fell out of favor.  Like “brabble”, meaning to bicker loudly about nothing, much as is happening in Congress pretty much any day of the week.  Yet this, to me, feels like only half of the story.  In the modern age, we have modern situations that, frankly, I think we need new words to describe.  For example, when you’re driving a safe distance behind somebody, and the person behind you passes only to slip into your safety zone.  We need a word for that.  (I must admit, when this happens, it triggers the passive-aggressive in me.  I always think that, if they’re really that comfortable with my skill to have me that close to their bumper, I just maintain that distance.)

Driving is rich in behaviors that need new words.  Like when you’re wanting to pass (especially when the person you’re passing is well below the speed limit), but you’re blocked because somebody driving essentially the same speed is in the passing lane. 

Traffic will often back up because people will slow down to look at an accident even if it is well off of the road.  I used to call these people “gore gawkers”.  Not long ago the person ahead of me came almost to a full stop hoping to see somebody dead while he was in the passing lane, a very dangerous situation for rear-end collisions.  For somebody suffering from PTSD as I am thanks to my accident, that really caused me stress. 

Let’s see, what else.  Oh, here’s an obvious one.  We need a name for all of the garbage we buy because we see it advertised on our social media service, are bored or because we were stuck at home quarantined.  I’m looking at a model of the space shuttle “Eagle”, used on the British television series “Space:1999”.  Do I really need a ten-inch model of this mood shuttle?  I don’t think so.  We need a name for those purchases.

Speaking of ten inches, I think we need a word specifically to describe men who over-embellish their “package”.  I shouldn’t laugh at this because the poor guy is dead, but working as the forensic lab director, we had a case of a man who was killed during a robbery.  Checking the contents of his pocket, we found, literally, eleven condoms.  Ten of them were normal, but one, just one, was a “Magnum” condom.  Which do you suppose he was showing to women in bars?  Sorry, guys, but your junk is not as impressive as you often think it is. 

Okay, that last one is probably not a “modern” issue.

We should have a word for arguing with somebody you never met on a friend’s social media post because I just can’t believe that jerk actually believes that.  Social media is a good source for these new much needed words, and not all bad.  I have several great friends I’ve not yet met in person because of social media, but doesn’t it seem, specifically, that a word needs to be round for interrupting your friend’s post to argue with somebody you’ve never met? 

How about a word to describe needing to go back and start something from the very beginning because of a very minor and temporary power interruption?  I’ll never understand why manufacturers feel the need to computerize things that work just fine in analog.  For example, my old washing machine used timed analogue dials.  You could start and stop it at any point in the cycle, and if the power went you, the dial would stop exactly where it was interrupted.  You just have to re-start the washing machine and all is good.  Do you suppose my new computerized washing machine will remember where it was interrupted?  If I happened to know where it stopped, it’s a moot point.  My new fancier smarter washing machine can’t start midway through the process.  I may not want to add more detergent (or should I?), but I have to restart it from the very beginning.

No, I’m not suggesting new words for any of these situations.  It just seems like there are so many such situations.  Sure, the Encyclopedia Britannica adds new words every year, but many of these new words seem so trite.  Some kid somewhere starts using a nonsensical term and because he’s cool, other people repeat it and it becomes a “new word”.  But rarely are these words as clever or fun as old words no longer used.  Like “YOLO”, an acronym meaning “You Only Live Once”.  It’s just awkward and clunky, and THIS is the word that is replacing the much more eloquent and intellectually satisfying “carpe diem”.  It’s sad, if you ask me.  But, I guess yolo. 

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