A War on Language?

Things are getting beyond ridiculous.

The NYC Department of Education was fifty words banned from students standardized tests, calling them “forbidden.”  Seriously.

Read the article here.

Whatever happened to freedom of speech?  What has happened to education?  Are we so politically correct, tiptoeing around on eggshells that teachers can’t even teach?  Really?  I thought I lived in America, the land of the free and home of the brave.  Now, this morning, I read that we want not to be able to teach children WORDS.

That’s the most half-assed backward thing I’ve heard this morning.

I hear children, teens and even adults using non-words like “conversate” and “hotness” and I cringe each time.  Sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut and try to tell them that the words are actually “converse” and “heat” but no one listens.  This is the result of a poor education.

Did I mention the word “dinosaur” is one of the so-called “forbidden” words.  Why?  Because it might offend Creationists.  Um, I guess teachers can’t take students to a museum to see dinosaur bones either.  This is stupid.  The word “poverty” is another of the proposed banned words.  I was brought up to believe there was no shame in being poor as long I was clean, honest and minded my manners.  Now the very word that describes a common state in this economy is something to ban?  Ridiculous.

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  Words need to be learned.  We also need to teach how they should not be abused.  My feeling is that if a person knows a word, knows what it means, they can CHOOSE to use it or not.  That’s right folks – hey can choose.

People died fighting for the right for us to have the freedom of speech.  Other people in other countries don’t have that and they fight incredible odds to come here in order to be able to speak their mind.  With idiotic bans like the one the NYC Dept. of Ed is proposing, people won’t have words in their mind to speak.

Instead of fighting words, let’s fight ignorance.

Speak Up!

I’m proud of myself today.

Speaking in public has always been a terror of mine.

But today, I went to court and had to get up in front of a judge and state my case – not only to him but the room was full of strangers; not to mention the person I was there getting a restraining order against, a person who’d put me through hell.

Last night, I was a bundle of nerves.  I was having panic attacks.  I knew I was right and all but still, it’s court.  Who likes going to court?  I’ve never had to go and stand in front of a judge before and I’d instigated this.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to go up in front and present my case. I thought the paperwork did that.  So there was a total “eep!” moment.  Then I lifted my chin, looked at the judge, let the room fade away and spoke.  I spoke loud and clear.  No one asked me to speak up.  I stated my case.  I was clear, concise, truthful and I spoke with conviction.  Even I heard it in my voice and I was shocked I wasn’t whispering in terror, or having my voice tremble and shake.  I spoke.

I won.

I won more than my case.  I won confidence.  I once turned down an opportunity to read one of my poems because I couldn’t bring myself to get up and speak before a crowd.  If offered it again, I’d take it.  I’ve vanquished my demon.  I no longer fear public speaking.  I can do it!

I’m proud of myself.

Ungraceful vs. Graceless

I had a conversation last night with a fellow word geek and friend.

I was in Second Life.  I go there sometimes at night for a unique way to chat with friends from all over the world.  It’s an interesting way to “see” these wonderful friends who live in places like Sydney, Somme, Mexico City.  Email and chat is one thing, but the virtual reality makes these online friendships more  solid.  Some I’ve met in real life and some I intend to meet. In any case, I was visiting with my friend Eliza and while chatting, I walked into a wall.  I am as klutzy in Second Life as I am in real life.

I said to my friend, “I am sooo ungraceful.” Then said, “or wait, is it graceless?”  Do you ever say a word and then think to yourself, “it doesn’t sound right”?  I figured Eliza would know since she’s almost a dictionary.  “Hmmm”, says Eliza.  “I think it’s ungraceful, I haven’t heard anyone say graceless.”  Off to Google I went.  When a word stumps Eliza, it’s cause for investigation and deep discussion.

I was surprised.  Both words existed and could be used depending on how you meant it.  Don’t you love the English language?  All these rules and exceptions to rules.  I love being a word detective at times.

So, for those of you like me who sometimes wonder about words, I DID use ungraceful correctly.  It’s nice to be fifty years old and still learning.

 Ungraceful from Webster’s

1. Lacking grace; clumsy; “his stature low…his bearing ungraceful”.[Wordnet]
2. Not graceful; not marked with ease and dignity; deficient in beauty and elegance; inelegant; awkward; as, ungraceful manners; ungraceful speech.[Websters]
3. Being ungainly, awkward, graceless, maladroit or gauche. [Eve – graph theoretic]
4. Being clumsy or inelegant. [Eve – graph theoretic]
5. Being stiff. [Eve – graph theoretic]
6. Being uncouth or rough. [Eve – graph theoretic]
7. Being unbecoming or indecorous. [Eve – graph theoretic]
8. Being adverse. [Eve – graph theoretic]
9. Being cruel, rigorous, severe or stern. [Eve – graph theoretic]
10. Infrequently used base adjective of the adverb ungracefully.[Eve – graph theoretic]

Graceless from Webster’s:

Adjective 1. Lacking graciousness; “a totally graceless hostess”.[Wordnet]
2. Lacking grace; clumsy; “a graceless production of the play”.[Wordnet]
3. Lacking social polish.[Wordnet]
4. Wanting in grace or excellence; departed from, or deprived of, divine grace; hence, depraved; corrupt.[Websters]
5. Unfortunate. Cf. Grace, n., 4.[Websters]
6. Being clumsy, awkward, ungainly, gauche or gawky. [Eve – graph theoretic]
7. Being impudent, shameless, unashamed, insolent or unblushing. [Eve – graph theoretic]
8. Being impolite, rude, impertinent or ungracious. [Eve – graph theoretic]
9. Being barefaced, brazen or brassy. [Eve – graph theoretic]
10. Seldom used base adjective of the adverb gracelessly.[Eve – graph theoretic]