Friday, May 11, 2012

Words We Love to Hate

They annoy, bother, irritate and rankle. They get on our nerves and make us cringe. It's enough to make a person scared to open a book or glance at a billboard. Words we love to hate, it seems, are all around us.

In a thought-provoking experiment inspired by a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (People Who Love Words Hate Words by Lucy Ferriss), notepads on easels were set up in the Blagg-Huey Library on the Denton campus of TWU to capture the words that TWU students, faculty and staff abhor, despise, loathe and revile--in a word, hate. Patrons were asked to write down the words they have an aversion to--with reasons if they had them.

In addition to offensive words of bigotry we'd all like to see stricken from the English language, there were some surprises in the word collection we amassed--and a few laughs. Samplings appear below and in the illustration above.


"Parking" . . . because there's never enough.

"Mammalian" . . . because it destroyed my life! Too much studying!

"Curator" . . . because I don't like the spelling or the way it's said.

"Penetration" . . . because it's gross.

"Hate" . . . because you never know what will happen, and (you may) have strong regrets.

"Illegal" . . . when used to identify an undocumented citizen.
Illegal implies something forbidden and shameful to society. Why do some people use (this) word to describe another person?! We shouldn't describe another person as being wrong or shameful to society.

"Swag" . . . because it's not a real word.

There's something appealing about spring cleaning our vocabularies. "Swag", "hate", "pimple" and worse--take them out of our idiomatic repertoire (now there's a good word) and who's going to miss them? The English language contains thousands of words--no one is likely to miss a "phlegm" here or a "pulpy" there.

Take out the words we hate, and what are we left with? Words we either don't mind or love--but that's a post for another day.

--Elaine Cox; Graphic by Greg Hardin

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