Tuesday, October 13, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Words change

Kidnapping is a serious offense, and it’s not just the taking of people. Kidnapping words and holding them until the original meaning has been squeezed out of them is becoming more and more commonplace.

The most well-known word kidnapping is that of “gay.” It has been grabbed by a certain segment of people and now refers to a particular sexual orientation.

But imagine what it has done to social studies teachers across the country trying to teach about the “Gay ’90s.” And then there’s that Christmas song where they don “gay apparel.” That line usually brings a round of Christmas ho, ho, ho’s to those listening to the tune.

Now, gay isn’t the only word kidnapped and forced into other “wordly” servitude. There is also “liberal.”

Remember when it was a nice fun word? I enjoyed spending time with my grandmother because she would serve up a liberal portion of ice cream every night. My family would always use a liberal amount of pepper on mashed potatoes, and my mom, well, she was pretty liberal with the wine while making authentic spaghetti sauce.

Then there’s “bad.”

When something is so good that we want to use gooder or goodest, but know English teachers would rap our knuckles, we say it’s bad. So, when someone tells me my cooking is bad, is that good or bad?

When something is so good that good is not enough to cover it, it’s bad. But, when something is so bad that bad doesn’t cover it, it doesn’t become good — and that’s good, or is that bad?

— Rick Kron