Loss of precision through word rot, treading carefully among the mines

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  1. Pcunix profile image93
    Pcunixposted 8 years ago

    Yesterday, while trying to show that a persons thinking was affected by preconception, I used the word "prejudice".

    The person felt that he had been insulted and attacked.   Apparently he thinks that "prejudice" is a pejorative and implies all sorts of nastiness.   Obviously that comes from the word being to commonly juxtaposed with race and homosexuality.

    It's frustrating.  We've already lost so many words:  "stupid", for example.  It should mean unthinking, being in a stupor, and is a perfect word to describe a momentary mental state.  Everyone of us is "stupid" at times, but we can't use that word now because it has become a pejorative only.

    Someone said that they got banned for using the word "pathetic".  Of course the context can matter, but as stated, that is very sad.

    I often find myself hesitating to use certain words even though they are precisely the right words to use.   I have to ask:  do we have to dumb down our own language to avoid offending those with poor vocabularies?

    It seems we do, and THAT seems  "pathetic" to me.

    1. WryLilt profile image88
      WryLiltposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I learnt even as a child that there are two languages you must speak - the one with people who understand what you say as you want to say it, and those who need everything said nicely and spelt out.

      I'm saddened to say that I often forget how to speak the former because so many people seem to speak only the latter language. sad

      1. Pcunix profile image93
        Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this


        But how low do we need to sink here?

        HubPages is supposed to be a community of writers.  One would expect writers to exhibit acuity with words.   Yet it seems that expectation is dashed on the rocks of ignorance - danger, danger, Will Robinson:  "ignorant" is an insult!

        It's worse than politically correct as irohner said.  It's more than that. Far too many words are verboten - not from political correctness, but from simple ignorance of their meaning.

        I'm a bit disgusted.

        1. profile image0
          DoorMattnomoreposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          a bit disgusted, sure, but not banned.  smile

          1. Pcunix profile image93
            Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this

            Not yet.  But I expect some accidental slip will cause that eventually.

        2. leeberttea profile image56
          leebertteaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

          Censorship is a dirty business. It requires all sorts of personal and subjective judgements that inevitably lead to inconsistent administration of policy. Also in writing, the tone of a comment isn't always clear and what may be viewed as an insult is really nothing more than failed sarcasm.

          Personally I think insults should be allowed here, it helps relieve stress and dissipates anger, and it can often be expressed in creative ways.

          1. Pcunix profile image93
            Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this

            I wonder:  if HP had a censorship free area, would that become more popular than the regulated forums?


  2. lrohner profile image78
    lrohnerposted 8 years ago

    Agreed. It's not enough that we strive to be grammatically correct, we also have to make sure now that we're "politically correct," lest we wind up in the same place Jennifer Aniston found herself last week.

  3. LaMamaLoli profile image60
    LaMamaLoliposted 8 years ago

    I think you should always use the correct word and bug*er the consequences. I am fed up of people taking offense at words which they don't actually know the real meaning of. But then I am also fed up with "political correctness"...I might just go away and start a revolution...

    1. Flightkeeper profile image66
      Flightkeeperposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      Careful, you could end up losing your job over it.

      1. Pcunix profile image93
        Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        Well, I couldn't (I work for myself), but yes, someone else could.

  4. LaMamaLoli profile image60
    LaMamaLoliposted 8 years ago

    I think you should write a hub about it!

    1. Pcunix profile image93
      Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I don't think I could say enough to fill a hub, but maybe someone else can.

      1. Disturbia profile image60
        Disturbiaposted 8 years agoin reply to this

        Well you would only have to spend 20 minutes talking to my 15 year old and a group of her friends and you would have enough material to fill a book.  These kids speak a language all their own.  Fortunately, I have Star to translate for me... LOL.

  5. Pcunix profile image93
    Pcunixposted 8 years ago

    I suppose I'm running a risk even mentioning this, because the person who took offense could  show up here and complain that I am implying that he is stupid.   Of course I am not, I am implying ignorance.   As Ron White so amusingly said "You can't fix stupid", but ignorance can be a transitory condition.

    I invited him to report my transgression.  I would hope that HP staff understands that my use of "prejudice" was neither insulting nor an attack, but I have no idea how persnickety things have become here.

  6. Disturbia profile image60
    Disturbiaposted 8 years ago

    WOW, I'm sorry you were misunderstood Pcunix. This just so much reminds me of the David Howard incident where his use of the word "niggardly" was interpreted as a racial slur and the controversy forced his resignation. 

    The meanings of words just change over time. Of course the word niggardly has nothing to do with race, it just sounds too much like the "N" word I guess.  But take the word gay for example, it used to mean happy, then homosexual, now kids use it to mean dumb or stupid. Or the word sick... which now means cool. Bad is good, cool is hot... it's just the way language devolves unfortunately. 

    Don't see how much can be done about it except education, except that education seems to be devolving even faster than our language.

  7. Pearldiver profile image78
    Pearldiverposted 8 years ago

    Well if you sponsor all the dummies that you insult with such words and send them to Law School... they will find the TRUE meaning of the word.... and thank you, won't they?

    Especially if they study Contract Law... 'Without Prejudice.'

    1. Pcunix profile image93
      Pcunixposted 8 years agoin reply to this

      I don't think you need to have any specific education.   Actually, all you need to do is read widely and omnivorously.

      The more you see words in context, the more you understand.  Unfortunately, reading skill seems to be diminishing - skimming is the new skill for today's world.  That likely comes from all of us having far too little leisure time.


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