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FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016
"Words are only tools, and so they are either sharp tools or dull tools."

Language as a whole is a tool - and, while I don't know many other languages, I'd say that English is one of the "tooliest" languages. That is, English, as far as other languages like French, Italian and Spanish, is an efficient language. It isn't burdened with flowery words, there is no use of plurals to express respect, nouns are (generally) gender neutral, etc. English as a way to communicate because, I would argue, easier because there is less for one to infer, less to extrapolate, less to analyze.

The word "Random" is overused, yes. Just like "Cool" and "Awesome", however, it immediately expresses a meaning that just as immediately can be understood by the other party. "How was your date?" "It was pretty random." From that statement, I have received every possible bit of information I could get about the date, without receiving any bit of information at all. It is ambiguous while simultaneously incredibly descriptive. If I choose to know more details, I can then follow up with: "What was so random about it?"

"Awesome" is just as expressive. In fact, the impressive thing about the word is how much it goes beyond it's definition. If a friend were to describe a movie as awesome, I can immediately infer much about the movie, without knowing any details about the movie. My male friend says ________ is an awesome movie. I immediately think: "This person likes action movies with huge explosions. So it's entirely likely this movie is of that type, and a particularly good one, because he even described with a praise-worthy word." While, if a female friend says a movie is an awesome movie, I can immediately apply the word in it's own connotation with respect to the female friend and their personality. Thus, with only a few words, I am given a wealth of information.

Generally, I hate it when people tell me about their dreams. It's boring, and it's dull. If people were just to simply say: "I had a random dream last night." I would immediately understand, and they could leave it at that. Crazy things occurred. Got it. Likewise, if they said "I had an awesome dream last night" I immediately know what they mean. In these cases, I don't want the details - I barely even want the initial statement, but if I have to get something, I'd like to know the bare minimum. Hogan had an awesome dream. Good to know. I will plot this on my Excel spreadsheet.

What does frustrate me is when people try and use the right words to describe things I could care less about. When I'm already uninterested in a topic you're discussing with me, why must I also learn about your tremendous vocabulary and powerful mind? The last thing I want is to hear about someone's dream/day/date/take on a movie in language akin to Shakespeare. If you're forming an opinion in which you are debating me, by all means use the appropriate language, but if we're not debating, use the fewest words possible.

Furthermore use of the word awesome - use and misuse, that is - tells me much about the person. "Latest Apple product is Awesome!" - I check it out, and while there's some impressive bits, as a whole it's sub-average compared to Apple's other products: conclusion person is a Fanboy who will describe anything put out by Apple as "Awesome." Why would I want the person to use more thought provoking words when they're not already working the wheels in their brain about the topic for which they need the very words?

Awesome is sufficient. Awesome is efficient. Awesome is awesome.




Point(s) taken, Alishah, but come on, is random at all articulate, just because you already know what the person is thinking or what they mean, simply because you already know the person? If you know someone well enough then they don't need to say anything - as you suggested - but in that case we're not really talking about the word "random", or "awesome", or any other form of inarticulateness.

Being more "objective" about all this (that is, getting away from the I-know-what-my-friend-means-when-they-say-"random"), I think word choice is extremely important. If it were just about getting what your friend meant, or your twin sibling, or your lover, or telepathic partner in crime, words wouldn't be the issue. But I'm talking about speech in general: public, ordinary, ostensibly-meaning-carrying language.

I see where you're coming from, though. There's something to be said for minimal, non-flowery language, especially between people who are likely to grasp each other's meaning without fully spelling it out. I'm just a fan of spelling things out: for others and myself, so I can understand better what I'm actually saying.

I should have mentioned Orwell's "Newspeak", because that's pretty close to the whole "random" phenomenon. Terms like "double-plus good" act as distinction-destroying, articulateness-lowering, dull linguistic tools, much like the recent use of "random".

Language evolves, changes, dulls, sharpens. But not on its own. As Orwell pointed out in the essay I did quote from, "Politics and the English Language", a small group of writers can jeer a particular term or phrase out of existence or, conversely, perpetuate lazy ways of writing and, by extension, thinking.

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