…What You Think It Means.
Yeah… Another Princess Bride reference, and I’m not even talking about “Mahwage”. How cool is that? After all, Inigo Montoya was one of the best parts of that whole film and the aforementioned snippet of dialogue has become even more appropriate today than when the movie was made.
Allow me to explain what I mean…
If you are reading this blog, you probably already know that I make my living with words. If you don’t know this, then let me set the record straight -
I make my living with words.
- There. Now we are all on the same page (LOL)… The truth is I’ve always been fascinated by words. They are what made me become an author in the first place. They are what prompted me to begin reading at an earlier than generally “normal” age. I simply cannot get enough of them.
And, because of my fascination with words I am well aware of the mutations some of them go through because of regional dialects, changes in society, people thinking they are being “cute”, plain ignorance, or sometimes because the speaker in question can’t seem to decide which word to use.
This is why we now have the “Urban Dictionary.” Honestly, I much prefer “sniglets” to “word urbanization.” Sniglets are funny while having a morphed meaning. The majority of urbanized words, to me at least, are completely unnecessary.
For example, I had a friend – ha ha, very funny… Yes, I still have plenty of friends, but this particular guy moved to a different part of the country and I don’t see him anymore – Anyway, I had this friend who, whenever he thought something couldn’t be done, would say that it wasn’t “fausible” (Fah-zih-buhl) – obviously a blending of feasible and plausible. Two words with similar, but not exactly the same, meanings. Honestly, this grated on my nerves something fierce, probably because he said it all the time, but I could see some humor in it because at least it sounded funny.
Such is not the case with quite a few of the “urbanized words” I’ve come across. Truth is, they sound just like the original word, but look like they are misspelled. To me that does not convey a blending of two words to create a new meaning. It simply looks like the person who wrote it is either woefully uneducated, just plain lazy, or both – especially in this day and age with anything and everything having a built-in spell checker.
Now don’t get me wrong. Typos happen. I am good for quite a few myself. But, intentional misspellings, that’s a different story. If I do that, I do it to be funny, and I offset the word with quotes or italics. But, I digress…
As I’m sure you already guessed, I ran across a blatant incidence of this very recently. But, as you also may have guessed, this blog isn’t actually about the word in question. It’s about a different word.
You see, I came across this particular blight on the English language via a Myspace friend request. The individual was flying an anti-Obama poster as his (or so he says) profile pic. It was the “Obama as the Joker” thing that has been going around. Now, as you all know, Obama wasn’t my choice for President, but then neither was McCain. I actually wrote in Evil Kat. Yeah… Seriously. But, that’s a whole ‘nother blog, and doesn’t apply here. So, while I thought the pic was in poor taste, I wasn’t about to cast aspersions on the person’s political views. That’s a personal choice and everyone is welcome to their opinion. However, the point is, said Myspace person was using this as a profile pic and it had this egregious misspelling on it. I probably wouldn’t have said anything if it weren’t for the fact that the misspelling didn’t really change the meaning of the word as was intended. The “Urban Dictionary” claims this bastardization to have a blended definition but the reality is the original root word would have conveyed the supposed message much better, and it wouldn’t have looked stupid.
So, I pointed this out when I accepted the friend request. Now, granted, I didn’t use smiley faces and LOL’s, but I wasn’t nasty about it either. I just noted that a spell checker might be a good idea. Still, I’m willing to concede that instead of rushing through my email and responding with a one liner perhaps I should have sent a longer note explaining that while I realized what was trying to be said, it might come across better a different way, LOL Smiley Happyface Grin No Offense Meant HAPPY HAPPY.
But I didn’t. And for that transgression I received an interesting response. That reply is what this blog is actually all about:
Now, I’ll be honest. Upon reading this my initial reaction was the desire to reply with a rebuttal explaining that while to err is human, attempting to convey sentiment with gross misspellings didn’t qualify as beautiful, it actually fell under the heading of looking like an ignorant schmuck.
However, I did not do that. I spent a few minutes ruminating over the fact that I probably could have pointed out the errors in a different way had I not been so rushed, and thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I should go apologize to this person.”
So, I clicked the mouse a time or two and surfed on over to this person’s Myspace page. And there for everyone to see, was this:
I read the tag line. Then I read it again. Then I went back to my email and read what had been said. Then I went back to the page and re-read the tag line. I refreshed the page. I cleared my cache and refreshed the page. I rebooted my computer and cleared history, then surfed over to the page yet again. Why? Because certainly someone who had just recommended I “try humility” wouldn’t have a tag line like that, now would they?
Just to be certain I wasn’t having a senior moment, I checked the dictionary – the real one, not the urban parody – and found this:
No change as far as I could tell. Apparently humility still meant what I thought it meant.
However, I do not think it means what the misspeller thinks it means. And, given the situation I really don’t find that inconceivable at all. However, I won’t keep saying it, even though it means exactly what I think it means.
For the record, I did not send the note of apology. Obviously it wouldn’t have mattered…
More to come…