Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nonsense

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"When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’


’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’


’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all." 

— Lewis Carroll -Through The Looking Glass

Do you have a favourite word? I quite like the word oxymoron. Maybe it’s a Bart Simpson puerile thing, you know, an adult word that finishes in moron must be laugh worthy.

What I like about the oxymoron is how unpretentious a word it actually is. Once the terrain of stand up comedians, the oxymoron seems to have become the default of political obfuscation. Not coincidentally, perhaps my second favourite word.

Very good, you picked the irony (hint: second favourite!) As an aside the reason I like the word obfuscation is not because it sounds so pompous, and indeed is most used by pompous types but because it is so apt. The very pronunciation virtually requires a mouth full of marbles to best enunciate. And that of course is the point. Obfuscation is the deliberate mangling of language in order to confuse and obscure meaning. Hence the reference to politicians!

That’s awfully good, a definite maybe, an original copy, a minor crisis, with a dose of job security and a dash of Facebook privacy thrown in for good measure.

Twitter also gets an honourable mention partly because it so accurately captures the essence of the medium it describes and yes you’ve guessed it comprises the word Twit.

A scribble on the topic of verbal nonsense probably needs a counterbalance. I have two words that are pet hates of mine. Hate is a little strong perhaps, hence the softener of the preceding pet.
Ultimate. A pretty neat word I guess, unpretentious and innocent enough, but… Arguably the most misused word in the English language. The favourite adjective and adverb of media voice over presenters, to introduce the ultimate game show, crime series, cat food, ab-machine, or holiday destination, is patently untrue. 

An unsubtle segue to my other word of irritation. A few years back, everything was just so patently obvious. It was the word of choice by the most condescending of smart alecs. Not only is it a redundant word it not so subtly implies that not only is their point of view actually obvious (actually gets another honorable mention) but its so obvious, patently, that anyone not realizing this, i.e. having a contradictory opinion must be a buffoon.

Enough of the silliness. Sometimes it’s interesting to step out of the moment and listen to the dialogue and tune in to the peculiar nonsense that passes for conversation.

Here’s hoping this finds you clearly confused!


Cheers Kiaran

10 comments:

Peter Fuller MBA CA said...

I do not have any favourite words, but I have always liked "epiphany".

Not only do I like the word but also the feeling I get when I use it.

Robert said...

I have two favorite words I really like and those are phenomenal and ponder. I really liked your blog post as it was definitly somethign different for the day, I have been up for maybe 10 minutes with no coffee so it was something I had to read a few times. Very good content though, much enjoyed.

Ilka Flood said...

Thank, Kiaran! I learned two new words today :) With English not being my first language I had to look up "oxymoron" and "obfuscation."

So hey, I'm smarter now than I was 10 minutes ago, thanks to you.

Have an awesome day!

Ilka

Ana said...

Clearly confused... but entertained!

I did not know you had a writer in you, Kiaran - you keep fascinating me:).

Best,
Ana

Slavik G. said...

Hello Kiaran,

I like many words that I use more then others but don't have any favorite in general, if it is in certain sphere then it will be some...

With Respect,
Slavik G

AlysiaDraeger0417永瑞 said...

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張孟勳 said...

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