Thursday, November 13, 2008

"And All God's People Said, 'Amen'"

Words have value in their ability to distinguish and to discriminate. And they are only ever damaged in one direction: they become more abstracted, more broad, less specific, less forceful, less memorable, less powerful, more middling, less individual. When people misuse "anticipate" to the point where it is identical to "expect," there's nothing to cheer for anyone. Why? Because where we once had two words for two concepts, we now have two words for the same concept-- and no word that means "anticipate". You and I are rapidly losing that wonderful word. In it's place is a vague shell. Irony is a fantastic concept, wonderfully precise. The word "ironic," at this point, is close to having no individual meaning whatsoever. When "ironic" can mean any kind of sort of strange, sort of funny happenstance, we no longer use that word to access a specific and incisive idea.


No comments: