While doing some research I came across this blog post about the verb ‘to suck’. The author reckons this word has lost all its sexual meaning (if ever it had any – see article for more on that), because
[t]he word’s root meaning has been replaced with a new connotation. Similarly, when I call Paris Hilton a moron, I don’t mean she’s mentally retarded, and when I call bungee jumping lame I don’t mean it’s disabled. What once was offensive is now simply abrasive.
Is it though? This father of a boy who has Down syndrome certainly doesn’t think so, and has lost his job over it.
We should be aware of what we’re saying, we should know the meaning of words even if that meaning is no longer mainstream. Words have power; they don’t say the pen is more powerful that the sword for nothing.
We, as people, as readers, as writers, take personal meaning from words – mine might be different from yours. So we need to be aware of the possible interpretations. Not because I think people should change their language to suit the (oversensitive) feelings of others, but so they know the backlash might be when they use a certain word.
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1 thought 5 sentences (or a little more!)