The English language is in hospice, dying of the cancer of over-simplification.
All language is now based upon whether we like it, understand it or can easily write it down, rather than whether it is accurate or just plain beautiful.
For example, take the word “bailiwick.”
I have personally never used the word in a conversation for fear that someone would think I was trying to be pretentious. But it is a gorgeous word.
And even though I do not use the word, I know what it means, so when I do hear some articulate human being express it, I am able to comprehend the meaning.
But as a writer, I find it necessary to sit down at least once a week and listen to a group of teenagers talk. After all, they are deciding where the English language is headed.
Occasionally I throw a word or two at them which I think is fairly common, only to be startled by their bewildered faces as they wonder why I decided to speak as if I were reading from a dictionary.
This may sound like a lamentation, but I will tell you that by no means am I a stick-in-the-mud who thinks America is going to hell one discarded word at a time.
But I do believe the preservation of certain language, and the ability to write with a bit of literary flair, cannot be completely estranged from our everyday efforts or we will eventually be a society that breaks everything down into initials, acronyms and slang.
So here’s to the use of the word “bailiwick”–at least every once in a while.
And also to the gentle patience which will be required from those who use it … to explain to the surrounding, dumbfounded hearers.
Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) — J.R. Practix
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