Language Peeves and Favorites

Dear Readers!

I’m sure most people find a few words and phrases at least mildly annoying. I certainly do. Worse, I’m sure I use some that irritate others! Sometimes a phrase or word has ‘spunk’ that appeals to the speaker/writer, or “feels good when it rolls across your tongue”. Slang and colorful or interesting phrasing can be playful and enjoyable.

I enjoy ‘gob-smacked’. I picked it up from hearing it occasionally used by British comedians. I take ‘gob-smacked’ to mean the same as “completely unexpected” or replacement for “you could have knocked me down with a feather”. It’s playful, has spunk! One of its playful aspects is that it’s pretty ‘earthy’; and sounds as if it should be reserved for selected audiences. Sometimes I like to use it with an audience I expect will be ‘thrown’ by it, (or thrown by the fact that they’re hearing it from me!)

Most words or phrases that irritate don’t have staying power. If we wait long enough (can seem too long, often several years) they usually fall out of fashion and trouble us no more. One that seems losing popularity is “git-go”. I am so pleased to ‘git’ rid of it, to have it ‘go’!

I’m still waiting, arms crossed and foot tapping, for general use of ‘line in the sand’ to be finished. Its current popularity has lasted long enough. What gets me about ‘line in the sand’ is that I’m absolutely certain at some earlier time in my life it had a different meaning from now.

I am sure we used to say someone ‘drew a line in the sand’ when we wanted to suggest the person had made weak and futile effort to stop something from happening. A line in the sand, the thinking went, will be gone with the first wash of water or puff of wind that hits it. Furthermore, the ‘opposition’ has only to extend one foot and rub it out, there’s no need to wait for water or wind!

I confess! I only this minute looked up ‘line in the sand’. It turns out (Wikipedia says) that as far back as ancient Sparta the phrase meant “beyond this line you will not go”. I’m gob-smacked!

Maybe some part of my brain insists too much on “logic”. Not every part of my brain, but some small section related to word meaning. Not every word, not every miniute – but here and there, with some words. I had barely reached the ‘age of reason’ when masculine pronouns used as universal reference to both genders caught my attention. It made no sense to me then, and still doesn’t.

I’ve invented genderless pronouns for use when the intent is “all people”: he/she = hre; hers/his = hris; and him/her = hrim. These make perfect sense to me. When I’m feeling especially bold, I use them.

Please use them yourself, any time you like!

My Best! –MaggieAnn


About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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