I’m back at the desk after a heartwarming visit with family. Slowly but surely, the work gets done.
This week I’m focusing on language. How do you use language? Do you write differently from the way you speak? Habits of formality, usually relegated to the workplace, allow casual speaking on breaks, at home, and in the streets. Or, that’s the way it used to be. Nobody likes the speech police and everything has changed. Journaling allows it all, and seemingly, so does TV language, including bad phrasing with slang included and expected.
I can remember a discussion we had with the kids around the kitchen table back in the mid-80’s. We lived in some of the most gorgeous countryside in the world, the oak and redwood- studded northern California mountains, an hour’s drive from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. We did not have TV reception back then, but we watched movies. Our family sweetly escaped the invasion of the video game empire, and not because we forced them out. We just ignored them. Our kids played hard. They rode bikes, ran around outside, did sports, swam, made crafts, tended to animals, rode horses, and skated. They learned how to garden and they did chores. Blissful? Almost.
So that night we gazed out the kitchen window and started a dialogue on what language was suitable for home use. For some reason the offender was the S-word, “suck” probably after one of them was told it time to help with the dishes.
Far from conservative, we considered ourselves to be middle-of-the-road progressives. We voted, paid taxes, mowed the lawn when necessary, volunteered with community organizations. We rubbed elbows with the mayor and the car wash dude. We knew what rules we wanted our children to follow and polite language was part of the mix, at least within earshot.
However, on the politics of suck, we were left in the dust and suck won.
Now on mainstream media you hear phrases such as, “a ton” to denote “many.” I heard one commentator say “there are a ton of websites on pool safety,” for example. I’m out. You win. It sucks, but I get it. And, I’ll get over it.
Formality is gone and the familiar is in.
collage by Susan E. Rowland