Our great nation faces a terrifying crisis. A time has come in which no man, woman or child is safe from this sweeping horror. Ladies and gentlemen, we are up against one of the most dangerous threats to freedom possible: the debilitating effects of a small vocabulary.
Yes, it is true. We do not use words to our full advantage. There is a deficiency of description when we speak. We no longer tell stories; we pass on information in sound bytes, merely muttering nothingness at each other. Diction-less cogs in an ever-spinning machine of useless information: ” … and did you hear that Britney Spears is getting married to (insert random back-up dancer here)?” We are lacking in substance when we speak, but that is an entirely different argument. Let us begin to discuss things other than the propensity of people to wonder over the latest celebrity’s disaster with dresses.
Valued reader, think to a time when you felt great emotion, say last weekend during the Packer game. Did you speak to anyone and describe those emotions? When we want to add emotion or conviction to what we are saying, we do so using such things as swear words. We feel the need to express ourselves, a most human need, but due to our lacking vocabulary we rely on expletives to express what we feel. Some say these words are just words, some say they are disgusting, some say they are valid adjectives. However, swear words are so overused now that we don’t notice them dropping from each other’s lips like so much verbal drool. We do not see the noxious spray issuing forth from each other’s mouths because swearing means nothing now.
We need to utilize words in such a manner that we express what we feel and yet manage to not confuse the message with expletives that get bleeped out.
Here is an example of how language can be used to your advantage. Let us take in this instance a fellow named Bob (Bob is not an actual person, just a figment of this writer’s imagination). Bob is with some friends watching the game and eating pizza. Bob decides that he would like another slice; there are now two ways of approaching this linguistically. Either Bob can say, “D–n, I want anudder slice of that f—ing pizza.” Or Bob can say this: “The scent of melted cheese on the air has alerted me to the presence of a delectable pizza. I am drawn to it as a hungry wolf is drawn to his scrumptious prey. I beg of thee, dear friend, comrade, pass me a slice of that saucy pie.” See? Which was more entertaining? Which was more polite? Which would you rather hear?
Fellow students of life, in the interests of allowing our civilization to thrive and grow we must foster the use of words. If we continue on the path that we now walk, we will soon digress into the grunts of prehistoric times, no offense to any cavemen or cavewomen for that matter. It is our duty as the next generation to continue the use of words in such a manner that several generations from now “awesome” will be a colloquial term, dude. If we allow language to degenerate into meaninglessness, then we as a nation are doomed to ignorance, since it is through words that ideas and knowledge is spread.
We must urge each other and those around us to expand our horizons by using words to illuminate the future. Expand your vocabulary; look up a word you don’t know. That is why we have so many dictionaries. Find meaning in words, read poetry and diversify your personal dictionary: your brain.
Casem AbuLughod ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in communication arts and theatre.