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Strictly Speaking

The Gold Standard of Words, Part 2


The emergence of excellence in communication does not require ponderously long sentences. It is catalyzed by using words that are correct in detonation, informative in connotation, and sufficiently succinct as to disallow confusion in meaning. In a world where even the distinct consequences of shouting, “Fire!” may be either a group response to a conflagration or total thermonuclear war, it is important that intent and care inform word choice.

Now let’s see the way that the current usage of a number of familiar words indicates that many current speakers have lost the command of language in service of meaning. The importance of immediate acceptance, as indicated by the epidemic of friending on Facebook has shrunk and hidebound our core vocabulary at exactly the time when the complexity of future issues requires an extension of its reach.

What follows is a necessarily incomplete illustration of how this shrinkage is diminishing the ability to communicate precisely. And to the unanchored drift, we need to recall the Bard’s advice:

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the
action; with this special observance, that you
o’erstep not the modesty of nature.”
- Hamlet, Act III, scene 2

More to come.
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