Just a little vocabulary thing

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Irene Triendl

19. 06. 2014 | 2 min read

Just a little vocabulary thing

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I love language. And I love everything you can do with it.

And I think it’s everyone’s to use and they should be allowed to use it whichever way they want. But this really bugs me:

When did “healthy” come to mean “low-calorie”?

And “lifestyle” shifted meaning to “gluten-free” or “teetotal” or whatever, as in “make better lifestyle choices”?

And I don’t mean historical developments that have led to certain terms not being technically correct anymore, like saying “dial a number”, when today’s phones don’t have dials; or talking about the lead in a pencil that isn’t actually made of lead anymore.

I mean

  •  “Departed” instead of died
  • “Correctional facility” instead of jail
  • “Collateral damage” instead of tacitly accepted deaths
  • “Letting someone go” instead of firing someone
  • “Please celebrate your ability to use the stairs” instead of “Don’t block the elevator, you lazy bastard” (I read it at Tate Modern. No kidding. They’ve removed it now).

I know that language develops and “pass away” doesn’t sound half as bad to me as it did when I first heard it, so who knows, give it a year and maybe I won’t mind any of the above. But today I feel there’s a distortion there, a half-truth, something deliberately not said and made all the more obvious because of that.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I’m not saying you can’t use those phrases. I’m just saying please let’s try better.

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