What's Wrong with the Old Words?
By Grant Ainsley | Tips | [comments] | Posted [date]
I was watching a Stanley Cup playoff game Saturday night when I heard the analyst use the word "oftentimes." 20-years ago, this word was never used. "Often" was always used in its place. Now I'm hearing it both in the media and in other conversations.
How does this happen? You have a perfectly good word suddenly being replaced by another. There are many cases of shorter versions of words being used now, especially by younger people and in social media.
I try not to sound like the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, but please stop using new words when the old ones work just fine.
Why is it Now Called May Long?
Every year, I hear more people using the term “May Long.” This year may have set a record.
I understand people are talking about the May Long Weekend. The word “weekend” has been dropped. Why, I don’t know. It’s a perfectly good word. We all love “the weekend”, unless apparently it follows the words “May long.”
When I was growing up, we called it the Victoria Day Long Weekend. It recognized Queen Victoria’s birthday or something. Some people called it the May 24th long weekend, but of course that was wrong because Victoria Day rarely falls on May 24th. We settled on the May Long Weekend, which worked really well for a couple of generations, but now it’s apparently too difficult to say the word “weekend” after saying “May long.”
I’ve also heard people talk about “July Long” and “August Long”, which is too bad. We need to remember why we have these long weekends and what we’re celebrating. They're not all the same.
Another term that I’ve heard a lot lately is “jab” to describe getting a dose of COVID vaccine. Many years ago, we called it an inoculation. More recently of course, it’s been known as a vaccination. To many people now, it’s simply a jab.
What’s suddenly wrong with vaccination? Too many syllables? Have we become that lazy?
Maybe it’s just me, but I keep thinking of those funny radio vignettes in the 90’s by The Champ, the punch-drunk former boxer who always got people’s words mixed up and then flew into a range, pounding the person into submission.
I can just hear it now, “Hey Champ, did Mrs. Champ get her jab yet?”
Champ: “I said pardon?.”
I’ve also been noticing a number of words being shortened, or becoming a cute shorter word.
Here’s a non-complete list:
Vacation is now “vacay”
Reservations are now “resos”
Appetizers are now “appies”
Kids are now "kiddos"
Dogs are now "doggos"
Professional is now “profesh”
Gorgeous is now “gorg”
I got some help on these words from my daughter Sarah, who informed me that gorg is pronounced the same as the word gorge. The gorge I know either means to stuff yourself with food, or an opening between hills or mountains, sometimes with water running through it. Neither seem like they should be used to describe anyone or anything that’s gorgeous, but what do I know?
Can We Just Ban These Words?
I’m an old school guy and the way I look at it is, if words like “vacation” and “professional” have worked well for over 100 years, why use shorter terms now?
Everyone knows what a vacation means, but they don’t teach the meaning of “vacay” in school.
Language does change over the years. I get it. If it didn’t, we still would be talking like they do in Shakespeare and that wouldn’t be good.
I have wondered if words were changed like this 100 years ago? Were longer words shortened and now we’re using them and don’t realize there’s a longer version? Perhaps.
It’s clear social media and technology have played a role in this. You can save characters by using some of the shorter words and save time when you text.
It seems to me though, some of these changes are being made because people are lazy and want to avoid three and four syllable words. Instead of running away from them, we should be running towards them, along with others. The more we can use longer words properly, the better we become as communicators. If we can properly say longer words, then shorter ones become easier.
Words with more syllables can also sound better. Single syllable words can sound harsh, while more complex words have a more distinctive and polished sound. “Professional” is a perfect example. There’s a word that sounds good. Professional. It sounds classy and certainly much better than “profesh.”
There’s also the element of confusion when shorter words are used like “resos”. Tell an older person you’ll make a reso for them and they may not know what you’re talking about, or they might think you’re talking about making some kind of resolution.
You won’t catch me saying “I need to make some resos for my vacay on July Long”. It even seems strange for me to type.
Now get off my lawn!
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