Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A word, A tree, A ramble

Last night at about 2:30 as I lie awake, listening to my wife alternately snoring and coughing, the neighbor warming up his car with the radio on, the cats pa-dumping about the house, I thought of a wonderful essay with great logical arguments and it was quite funny. Somehow when I got out of bed, the arguments were not so logical, in fact there were many holes, and I am not as witty awake I guess.

Around this time of year, I hear people talking about how they are offended that the “PC” people don’t “let” them say Merry Christmas any more. If you want to, go ahead and say it. Knock yourself out. I think they want to find something to rail against. Sort of reminds me of the Offensensitivity cartoon from Bloom County.

This comes from all parts of the political spectrum, wanting to change the meaning of some words to their advantage; think 1984 with newspeak. I remember years ago, when living in the Charlestown section of Boston, a kid yelled “Liberal” at me. I sort of looked at him and said, “Yeah, what is your point?” I guess now that word have been used a derisive term by the right, that it has become somewhat of an insult.

People have taken over parts of the language for their own use, if you get the correct words, and stake them out yours, it is difficult to make a counter argument, think of the anti-abortion and pro-choice crowd, who wants to be known as pro-abortion or anti-choice?

How sensitive do you need to be toward people when referring to their ethnic group? Is there a reason to discuss ethnic groups? If you feel you must, how about using a term that would not get you beat up by members of the group? You know how violent we flat-headed Norskis get.

What got me going on this topic? I was on the forum pages of the Rochester, NY newspaper, the other day, and a guy posted some Christmas tree pictures and wrote words to the effect that ‘these are Christmas trees not holiday trees!’

Call it what you want. When I have a tree up, I usually refer to it as “the tree” It is normally the only tree in the house, so no further reference is needed. (By the way, I don’t think of a ficus as a tree, it is a leaf-dropping thing) When driving around town at this time of year, I point out trees to my wife, I think it is implied as to what type of tree we are talking about.

I think people consider what words they use to be the best choice, or they would not use these words. Perhaps, to coin a phrase, instead of “Politically Correct Speech” they are using “My Correct Speech”. And their choices are the correct ones.

Think about regional speech for a while. If you have lived in other areas than where you live now, you would understand. Around here a Hot dog is a Hot, either red or white, around the country you could also have a frank and other things. Worse example of this was soon after I moved to Boston and ordered a milkshake. I did not know what the rest of the world calls a milkshake was a frappe in Boston. “Wanna Coke?” ” Sure, what kind?” “ Sprite?”. My grandmother was confused when we asked her to buy us soda once. She went out and got baking soda.

Just call things what you want to call things and don’t sweat it.

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