Which Words Are OK To Say?

All of us, unless we are particularly ignorant or terrible, recognize some words as patently offensive: “gay” or “retarded” as negative adjectives, for example, or any version of the n-word out of the mouth of a non-black person. However, some words that I think are OK to use are considered sexist or ableist by others, so I’m keeping my mind open to the possibility that I might be wrong.

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13 Words for 2013

I’m not one for resolutions, for a variety of reasons (mostly because it’s just setting myself up to fail). Last year, I finished up “The Happiness Project” just before New Year’s and chose to carry that spirit forward with my 2012 Positivity Challenge. Being in a place (both mentally and physically) of so much transition at the moment, I knew I wanted to do something this year, but what? The other day, it came to me: 13 Words. Thirteen words to carry with me through the year as mantras, as intentions, as meditations, as guiding principles, as things to ground me. Thirteen Words. A baker’s dozen. One for each month, and an extra for the year. And as soon as I started thinking about it, the words started coming to me in a flood. Here they are, in no particular order: Read More 13 Words for 2013

This is, Like, Really Hard

So I thought it was time to give you all an update on my epic quest to stop saying “like” so much. As I explained last week, I had a few reasons for trying to cut back. But mainly it was that I realized I use it as a linguistic crutch, and my verbal eloquence would probably benefit greatly from trying to cut it out. Read More This is, Like, Really Hard

We Try It! Cutting Back on “Like”

Yes, I’m one of those people who have a tendency to overuse this versatile, mostly meaningless word. I’m 29, which means I was a kid in the ’80s and a teenager in the ’90s. Pretty much the perfect storm of “like” exposure.

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On Politics, Government, and Semantics

For the average person, politics and government are pretty much synonymous. At the very least, they belong in the same breath, “politics-and-government,” two concepts that always go together and occupy the same space in your mind. For folks like me, they’re two very different things. Read More On Politics, Government, and Semantics

The Etymology of Slurs

When someone’s in a hurry to get somewhere and they spill their breakfast on their favorite work shirt or they accidentally lock themselves out of their apartment or their car has a flat, you know what that is? Frustrating. Anger-inducing. Just generally unfortunate. But never “retarded.” Read More The Etymology of Slurs

Hateful Rhetoric: A story from the inside

For my politics column today, I’d wanted to write about President Obama’s speech last night at the memorial for the victims of this past weekend’s shooting, and about virulent language in public debate more generally. So much of it has been said already (such is the downfall of writing weekly on the subject, rather than daily) with varying levels of accusation, defensiveness, and rational discussion in tone. Read More Hateful Rhetoric: A story from the inside

Lunchtime Poll 12/8

It’s that time again! Lunchtime poll time!  We’re officially halfway through the work week?  Who’s excited?  I can’t believe how fast this month is going.  Is anyone ready for the holidays? I am not.  Speaking of, my sister wrote on my facebook yesterday that we need to plan our Christmas day feast.  I wrote back: “Did you want to make a roast beast?”  Yes, you read that right.  Roast Beast. As in “and the Grinch himself even carved the roast beast.”  In my family we’re big fans of both appropriating words from children’s books and movies, or either just making up our own words that we use.  Roast beast, in case you haven’t figured it out, is just roast beef.  Another favorite is “sniggling.”  The dictionary definition has to do with fishing for eels.  Growing up it was the word my mom used when we were avoiding going to bed. As in “Mooommm I need a drink of water!”  “No you don’t. You’re just sniggling. Get to bed.”  As grown ups it’s evolved to represent procrastination, usually with regards to work.

So, tell us readers, what are your made-up family words.  And where did they come from, if you know?