Monday, August 8, 2011

Got Dictionary?

As you might have sensed from my previous post about irony, I have a thing about language. Namely, there's what words mean, and when you use them to mean different things, it doesn't change the meaning of the word but sure says a heck of a lot about you.

Now, what's about to follow is a less obsessive version of 'gay does not mean annoying' and 'retarded does not mean inconvenient' comments more commonly point out. But this is basically the same premise.

The Other One was telling me about a friend of hers who misused the word disinterested in an essay, because she "liked the way it sounded." When The Other One pointed out she had changed the meaning of the sentence by using a different word, the girl replied that most people use the word incorrectly and would thus understand her incorrect usage. Or -- and I believe this is a direct quote -- "You're only confused, because you know what this word actually means."

It is at moments like these that I want to introduce my head the my desk and make them roommates.

The only way language works is that we all agree about what words mean. Otherwise, I'll be going to Starbucks to get a dog by which I mean iced coffee, and they'll say they don't have hammers, by which they mean pets. Words mean what they mean.

I know, I'm probably a ranting crazy about this, but this will probably never stop being something I care about. Precision in language is not a waste. It is the beauty of it.


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