Friday, September 17, 2010

Word of the day

At first glance, it would seem this word is a classic example of doublespeak. You all know doublespeak. It's inescapable. We don't lie, we use "categorical inaccuracies". Someone isn't fired, they enter "voluntary severance" or are "downsized". My favorite is "pre-owned".

When I ripped off Monday's word and came upon the above as Tuesday's word of the day, I was rather taken aback. I count on my Word-a-Day calendar to expand my language. Indeed, it has given me my favorite word, "obnubilate". I felt this word was tasteless and encouraged the obfuscation of statement rather than clarity.

But then I got to thinking. "Bromance", "Chillax" and "Wardrobe Malfunction" have been added to the Merriam Webster dictionary this year. (1. A close relationship between two men; 2. A word used to ask someone to calm down and relax; 3. The exposing of an intimate part of the body due to the failure of an article of clothing. You're welcome.) The English language is hugely flexible, embracing words of all types. That's what makes it so ubiquitous and the choice for communication. Our language's pliability makes it ideally suited for new words or the mashing together of old words to become a new one.

While I will continually advocate for clear and concise speech, "disremember" has a place in the lexicon. I doubt it's going to be hugely popular until some comedian or politician uses it. It sounds like a willful act. Perhaps it's all in the context as so much communication is. "I disremembered my pants" sounds more plausible than "I disremember what happened on the night of July 18th".

I am reminded of a quote from Alice in Wonderland.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means what I choose it to mean - nor more nor less."

Beverage: China Black tea


No comments:

Post a Comment