Google informs me there are 1,013,913 words in the English language. Among these are certain words that, when I hear them, my skin crawls and I immediately cringe. It’s not anything against the person that has said one of the words on my naughty list, it’s the word itself. I’m certain I’ve said many words on other people’s most hated list too, so don’t worry I’m not writing this with a clear conscience.
I was talking to a friend recently who was telling me all about her latest trip abroad. She was describing in great detail the beaches and bars she had visited and how she had hired a car and gotten lost, “I was completely lost for 2 hours, even with the map I was totally disorientated”. My entire body immediately stiffened and I quickly clenched my jaw to stop me from saying what I was thinking… ‘it’s disoriented, not disorientated’.
Now before I get torn to shreds by any readers out there who use the ‘tated’ version, I have researched this and found both words do exist in dictionaries and it depends on which part of the world you are from as to which version you use. My disdain for ‘disorientated’ is purely personal.
Another person in my life recently instructed me to be ‘more pacific’ with my feedback. More Pacific? North or South? Would it help if I went and stood on the coast-line? This same person also pointed out I had made ‘deliberate mistakes’ in the past. Wait, what? Do you know the meaning of either of those words? Because you’ve used both of them entirely out of context you intelligent idiot.
Referring to Matt and the status of our relationship has long been a problem for me too because there are so many words on the subject that bother me.
Take, for example, Fiancé, a perfectly acceptable and frequently used word that sounds contrived and arrogant to me when I say it. As a result, I tend to notice people judging me when I tell them I’m ‘meeting my boyfriend’ while clearly sporting an engagement ring on my left hand. The term ‘other half’ is another source of annoyance because, if you look at me, I am clearly one whole person and not walking around with half my limbs and vital organs missing, flesh hanging off the bone.
The word ‘partner’ is a tad fishy too because it isn’t gendered specific. This poses a huge problem for me because of Matt’s commonly used nickname. On numerous occasions, I have been questioned by friends and colleagues about my sexuality. For months I had wondered what about me had alluded to the fact I may be gay and if I had unknowingly been giving off these vibes to members of the same sex. Finally, someone told me it was because I had consistently referred to my ‘partner’, Lillian.
On more than one occasion I’ve been heavily chastised by my Grandmother for using the word ‘literally’. “Of course you did it literally Phoebe”, she says, “That’s the only way you could have done it. You’re using the word out of context. It’s hyperbole”. After looking up hyperbole in the Miriam-Webster dictionary, I was literally devastated.
It’s difficult to stay on top of using every word in context and what’s more, the English language just keeps growing. Personally, I believe part of this growth comes from music. Case in point, the introduction of the word Bootylicious into the English dictionary. I’ve watched so many rap videos on MTV that I don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore and have found myself at the tube station yelling “that s**t cray” at the conductor when I’m told the Victoria Line has been temporarily suspended.
Words like ‘totes’ and ‘amazeballs’ have crept into our vocabulary and some words have simply been replaced altogether with shortened versions of themselves like LOL, ROFLMAO, WTF and FML. What’s most disturbing about this is that they’re so widespread that even my Mum, who can barely work Facebook is using them in her text messages… has the world gone mad?!