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13 Comments

  • Oh, fine post Beth (in the African American sense!) Loved it, and the Hooray and Boo words link was much appreciated too.
    A word that’s stumped me in the US is ‘socialized’. The Macmillan dictionary has two meanings for socialize:
    1. to spend time with other people socializing (eg.at a party)
    2. to teach people, especially children, to behave in a way that is accepted by society.
    So it definitely seems like a ‘Hooray’ kind of word to me, but I found the adjective in the phrase ‘socialized medicine’ is in fact a ‘boo word here,. Think it has connotations of coersion, or being anti-American and it had me doung double takes all through the recent health care debate.

  • Oh the number of times I have corrected one of my students when they have said their sports team “versed” another! Or heard the question “Who are we versing on the weekend?” I have images of my students sallying forth to recite poetry at their opposition on the sports field. Hmmm.

  • Nevermind fine, what about PERFECT. Seriously what could denote a more positive connotation than ‘perfect’. Sadly, these days more often heard in this context:

    Mum- Where are the keys to the car?

    Me- On the table but… there’s no petrol in the car.

    Mum- Oh, that’s just PERFECT!

  • Actually I think you’ll find “you look FINE!” means you look hot, gorgeous, sexy. Nothing to do with fine wines or fine fabrics! That one should certainly find its way into dictionaries as soon as possible.

  • Along the same lines as your article, answering “Yes” will no longer suffice. It must be “ABSOLUTELY!”, because we are living in a superlative age (” … it was the BEST of times, it was the WORST of times…”).
    I wonder if this means that “Yes/No” questions will soon become extinct?

  • Yes Harry, I totally agree. I used the examples of wine and fabrics to suggest a sense of ‘fine’ as a superlative – if you applied that to a woman, it certainly would mean ‘hot’! Yes, this sense should get into the dictionary pronto – thanks for your comment!

  • Oh Megan! What a thought but you are totally right there….ooops! Did I just say ‘totally right’ then? Isn’t ‘right’ right enough anymore?…..Must watch that…

    Thanks for your comment.

  • I think, what is most interesting about many of these words, is that to achieve certain meanings, the tone of your voice must be adjusted. I tell my students and my teen daughter, it isn’t what you say, it’s how your say it! So perhaps it’s really, “Watch your tone!”

  • Hi Beth,

    Nice reading your thought provoking post. I am particularly moved sometimes to think of how this constant random use of words for many cases has affected the written word. You see that in the world today where people are driven from the book to visual entertainment, in one sense, to gain that familiar expression which maybe lacking in the books they see.

    Sorry for the waffle. See you soon.

    Gary

  • nd How about if u ask some one , how r u doing ? nd they just reply ” I am living ” !!!!!
    could u plz tell me what is the lie behind this answer ????