Lately, it has become a trend to ban words. It doesn’t necessarily mean they offend anyone, just that someone out there has determined they don’t like a particular configuration of letters anymore. They believe that these words are over-used, overblown, or for no particular reason, the words fell out of favor with certain word mongers. I believe this is a deadly practice. I hate to see the death of a word. Any word.
The most popular banned word, of course–we all know which one that is–has led to banning the word that uses the same letters but doesn’t mean the same thing, and it’s a perfectly good word. Several weeks ago, I read that the word very is verboten. Before that, I read a thread on LinkedIn where the use of the word but should be avoided at all costs. This morning I read an editor is trying to stop her writers from using the word chuckle. As an author, always in search of the perfect word, I have to admit that I like the word but, a lot. I also like the word very, even though I don’t use it very often (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself), and I simply adore the word chuckle. I like the way it cracks out of my mouth.
He chuckled. He snickered. He tittered. He giggled. He chortled. He sniggered. I know there are quite a few words that mean the same thing as chuckle, but if you have used all those words, perhaps that is the only word left to express the kind of laugh used by a character. I know I chuckle. I like chuckling very much. I have friends who chuckle. Members of my family chuckle. I chuckle into my hand. I turn my head and chuckle, and, sometimes, I’ve been known to chuckle when it wasn’t appropriate. Just nervous, I guess. But, I’ve been known to snigger, twitter, chortle, and giggle.
I hate trends. I especially hate trends where words are banned because someone has determined that a certain one has been used too often. Who are these people? Do they monitor the use with a counter? I’d really like to see that abacus. Who are the Theys who have so much power to ban simple, unoffensive words? If the author has used the word too often, then it’s appropriate to say, “Use another word, please.”
These word mongers are never upset about the over-use of curse words. The word f#!* doesn’t seem to bother anyone, either in print or on film. I don’t find a movement or a trend to ban that word, and, I often find it overblown and boring, even offensive. I’ve skipped over dialog and narratives that use it too much. I’ve been known to walk out on movies where the word is peppered throughout the dialog with a heavy hand. I avoid people who use it in casual conversations. And, I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but I hated Catcher in the Rye. So, shoot me. I didn’t find it entertaining. And it was stupid!
I’ve seen characters in films using that word–you know which one I mean–as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb, all in the same sentence. There’s a scene in the Boondock Saints where a character uses that word in a stream that is truly hilarious. You can find it on YouTube, but I won’t put it on my site. You have to find it on your own, thank you very much. However, it’s the only use of that word that I ever found amusing, even though I didn’t find the film that entertaining, and the word was truly over-used by every character. Oh, yes. And in the film Die Hard, its use was funny. I did chuckle quite a bit, besides laughing heartily.
And what about that word beginning with an S? That one, too. It can become very annoying when it’s over-used. But, I suppose, if someone feels compelled to use the darned word they can. It used to be a free country, and we supposedly have freedom of speech. Maybe. With all the word banners out there, how free does that make us? It’s all very annoying, but we can stand up to those who wish to ban words and tell them, “No! We love words, all words, and we won’t stand for eliminating any. Stop the madness!”
Then chuckle, it’s just a very unassuming word ….
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