When a Word Becomes Meaningless, Or Worse…

Can we now relegate the word awesome to the trash heap of misused and abused words? Does [tag]awesome[/tag] even mean anything, or is it like a basic grunt or groan–just a sound to register your mere presence?

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing it.

"Hey, [tag]dude[/tag], Iran just developed a nuclear bomb and destroyed Israel?"


As you can see from this hypothetical but eerily prescient conversation that the word has managed to desensitive people to things around them. If everything is awesome, then there’s nothing ever wrong or bad. Maybe we can retire dude while we’re at it.


When Is Truth Truth?

No, this is not a variation of Bill Clinton’s question about the meaning of is. Rather, it’s a response to the Academy Awards and its bestowing of an Oscar on Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Now, that film’s subject matter is global warming, which despite media reports and Gorian proclamations has scientists divided.  Those who want to cash in on the global warming hysteria seem to say it’s been proven; other scientists say there is no conclusive proof whatsoever.

However, this hasn’t stopped either Gore or the United Nations (or for that matter, the media in general) from proclaiming that there can be no more scientific debate. 

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Discussion: Words that Originated in Rap Lyrics

So far, I’ve been unsuccessful in finding any Web sites that detail or discuss words that have been imported into everyday English usage that originated in [tag]rap lyrics[/tag], so I’m opening this for discussion.

If you know of any such words, phrases, grunts or groans, please use the commentary function on this posting to let us know.  (Dirty words are okay, so long as they’re now in the employ of some segment of English-speaking society and are not ethnically or racially offensive, an don’t worry–I do moderate all submissions.)

Sound-Alike Words

No, this is not a new category for my blog, but rather a common phenomenon in English.  Two words can sound completely alike, and if we don’t use them frequently enough, we can confuse the two while writing.

Case in point:

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New Category: MorphedWords

Since I screwed up and used the NotWord morphed in my posting yesterday, I’ve created a new category wherein common and acceptable English words get bastardized into forms and meanings never originally intended.  In short, to employ a NotWord (which has been now joined by new category), these words have been morphed.  Hence the name for my new category: [tag]MorphedWords[/tag].

What was the first MorphedWord?

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MorphedWords: Put ‘Charisma’ on the List

There I go–I used a NotWord.  I don’t believe morph is a verb, though the dictionary folk may have added it.  Naughty me.

The word I’m really writing about, however, is [tag]charisma[/tag], which is being bandied and thrown about a lot now that [tag]Barack Obama[/tag] is running for president.

What exactly does the word mean?

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Passive Voice Blues

In the English classes I’ve taught, and there have been many of them over the years, students have generally struggled over the English usage of [tag]the passive voice[/tag].  If, say, I write an active sentence on the board and ask the class to turn it into the passive voice, what I’ll usually get is a past tense sentence.

For instance, change this to passive:  “I eat hamburgers everyday.”

What’s your solution?

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Can’t Escape that Rome Connection

English is not a romance language, meaning its roots aren’t in ancient Rome, but our traditions still date back to the days of Caesar et al. 

Take [tag]Valentine’s Day[/tag]. Despite its naming after Catholic saints (which one is hard to say, for two or more are candidates), Valentine’s Day may have its roots in Lupercalia, Feb. 15, when Roman young men ran through the streets naked.

Then what happened? Read more

Three Steps to Writing Perfection

Okay, the headline/title sounds promising, doesn’t it?

What I’m referring to here are the three parts of a well written piece, and I know this is going to sound rather mundane, but they are–the introduction, body and conclusion.

The point of success comes in how the writer approaches these elements, and that’s why you should read my articles on thesis statements and topic sentences in English Resources.  The [tag]magic of three[/tag] is revealed in these articles.