Sometimes, I wish I could ban my students from saying the word “gay” unless we’re specifically talking about homosexual people. Today one kid said that the ceiling was gay. Ceiling can’t be gay. Ceiling can’t even be straight. Ceiling is ceiling. Ceiling’s sexual preference is light bulb.
Today my art history professor gave some words of wisdom:
Nude is when your clothes are off. Naked is when your clothes are off and you’re up to something
Language is a strange thing. We use it every day, but we often forget it’s there; it’s easy to learn as a child, but fiendishly difficult as an adult; and, for reasons that are hard to define, certain words can evoke strong emotions or even downright offend.
Below, 6 TEDx Talks (and one TED Talk!) on the wonders of language, from the secret life of pronouns to why we’re so offended by curse words.
John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!
Since its invention, many people have railed against the rise of “txt spk,” believing its use will eventually lead to the demise of English. John McWhorter begs to differ. At TED2013, he explains that texting is merely a new dialect of English and that we should rest assured that the language we speak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The Secret Life of Pronouns: James Pennebaker at TEDxAustin
The words you use most say a lot more about you than you may intend. At TEDxAustin, James Pennebaker introduces you to the secret life of pronouns and demonstrates what your speech, emails and tweets say about you.
How Does The Brain Interpret Language?: Steve Nikolidakis at TEDxCooperUnion
In this short and sweet talk, Steve Nikolidakis explains the basics of neurolinguistics and its insight into how the brain processes language at TEDxCooperUnion.
Euphemisms: Kate Burridge at TEDxSydney
What is it about a word that makes it taboo? At TEDxSydney, Kate Burridge explains the mysterious phenomenon of some words being ruder than others.
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo
At TEDxDirigo, Phuc Tran takes you on a fun romp through grammatical mood, debunking the often misunderstood subjunctive, with some interesting examples using Darth Vader thrown in for good measure.
Walk the Talk: Simon Denoth at TEDxZug
At TEDxZug, polyglot Simon Denoth expands on the importance of plurilingualism and the benefits it can bring to society — besides just being a good party trick.
100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
by Mark Nichol
One of the many fascinating features of our language is how often words with pleasant associations are also quite pleasing on the tongue and even to the eye, and how many words, by contrast, acoustically and visually corroborate their disagreeable nature — look no further than the heading for this post.
Enrich the poetry of your prose by applying words that provide precise connotation while also evoking emotional responses
- Amorphous: indefinite, shapeless
- Beguile: deceive
- Caprice: impulse
- Cascade: steep waterfall
- Cashmere: fine, delicate wool
- Chrysalis: protective covering
- Cinnamon: an aromatic spice; its soft brown color
- Coalesce: unite, or fuse
- Crepuscular: dim, or twilit
- Crystalline: clear, or sparkling
- Desultory: half-hearted, meandering
- Diaphanous: gauzy
- Dulcet: sweet
- Ebullient: enthusiastic
- Effervescent: bubbly
- Elision: omission
- Enchanted: charmed
- Encompass: surround
- Enrapture: delighted
- Ephemeral: fleeting
- Epiphany: revelation
- Epitome: embodiment of the ideal
- Ethereal: celestial, unworldly, immaterial
- Etiquette: proper conduct
- Evanescent: fleeting
- Evocative: suggestive
- Exuberant: abundant, unrestrained, outsize
- Felicity: happiness, pleasantness
- Filament: thread, strand
- Halcyon: care-free
- Idyllic: contentedly pleasing
- Incorporeal: without form
- Incandescent: glowing, radiant, brilliant, zealous
- Ineffable: indescribable, unspeakable
- Inexorable: relentless
- Insouciance: nonchalance
- Iridescent: luster
- Languid: slow, listless
- Lassitude: fatigue
- Lilt: cheerful or buoyant song or movement
- Lithe: flexible, graceful
- Lullaby: soothing song
- Luminescence: dim chemical or organic light
- Mellifluous: smooth, sweet
- Mist: cloudy moisture, or similar literal or virtual obstacle
- Murmur: soothing sound
- Myriad: great number
- Nebulous: indistinct
- Opulent: ostentatious
- Penumbra: shade, shroud, fringe
- Plethora: abundance
- Quiescent: peaceful
- Quintessential: most purely representative or typical
- Radiant: glowing
- Redolent: aromatic, evocative
- Resonant: echoing, evocative
- Resplendent: shining
- Rhapsodic: intensely emotional
- Sapphire: rich, deep bluish purple
- Scintilla: trace
- Serendipitous: chance
- Serene: peaceful
- Somnolent: drowsy, sleep inducing
- Sonorous: loud, impressive, imposing
- Spherical: ball-like, globular
- Sublime: exalted, transcendent
- Succulent: juicy, tasty, rich
- Suffuse: flushed, full
- Susurration: whispering
- Symphony: harmonious assemblage
- Talisman: charm, magical device
- Tessellated: checkered in pattern
- Tranquility: peacefulness
- Vestige: trace
- Zenith: highest point
- Cacophony: confused noise
- Cataclysm: flood, catastrophe, upheaval
- Chafe: irritate, abrade
- Coarse: common, crude, rough, harsh
- Cynical: distrustful, self-interested
- Decrepit: worn-out, run-down
- Disgust: aversion, distaste
- Grimace: expression of disgust or pain
- Grotesque: distorted, bizarre
- Harangue: rant
- Hirsute: hairy
- Hoarse: harsh, grating
- Leech: parasite,
- Maladroit: clumsy
- Mediocre: ordinary, of low quality
- Obstreperous: noisy, unruly
- Rancid: offensive, smelly
- Repugnant: distasteful
- Repulsive: disgusting
- Shriek: sharp, screeching sound
- Shrill: high-pitched sound
- Shun: avoid, ostracize
- Slaughter: butcher, carnage
- Unctuous: smug, ingratiating
- Visceral: crude, anatomically graphic
Notice how often attractive words present themselves to define other beautiful ones, and note also how many of them are interrelated, and what kind of sensations, impressions, and emotions they have in common. Also, try enunciating beautiful words as if they were ugly, or vice versa. Are their sounds suggestive of their quality, or does their meaning wholly determine their effect on us?
From Writers Write
My lovely followers, please follow this blog immediately!
I have a story to go along with this.
My 6th grade English teacher was insane. Like, certifiable, I’m fairly certain. She was nice enough, but she was crazy as shit.
One day, about February-ish, we come to school and she’s standing outside of her classroom (like she did every day between classes) wearing all black and sobbing into a kleenex.
Naturally we were worried.
I had her 3rd period, I think, and I remember all of the classes were sworn to secrecy about what the fuck was going on. When we got there, she had candles all over (against the school rules, but hey, who gives a flying fuck, right?), all the lights were out, and there was a tiny coffin up at the front of the room, right in front of the blackboard. (Yes, that classroom had a blackboard. Cower before my antiquity, younglings.)
Okay, so that ruled out any of her family members being dead.
Once we’d all gotten settled into our seats, she came striding in, still tearful and noisy, to announce:
“S-s-s-said is DEAD!”
What the ever-loving shit, Mrs. Hester. What the ever-loving shit.
The rest of class was a dramatized funeral (read: we had to write essays and read them in front of the class) and the announcement, heralded by these sheets, that we were not allowed to use the word “said” any more, as it had passed away.
Apparently she does this every year.
every teacher should do this
I just had to edit an essay and the writer could have used this chart
I believe I’ve seen a comprehensive description of consent once before. Figured I’d contribute as it’s a subject that bears repeating.
- Non-coercive: If you’re cojoling, threatening or otherwise trying to “convince” someone to engage in a sexual act with you, you are breaking consent. If you asked 16 times and got 15 No’s and 1 Yes, you still did not adequately obtain consent. Also, you’re a weak individual.
- Not fixed: What I mean by this is you shouldn’t take for granted that after asking once for consent that you now have consent forever. It’s not like landing a gig as a Supreme Court judge. You don’t have consent for life. It should be continuously negotiated.
- Dynamic: Related to the above note, consent for one act does not necessitate consent for all acts. Consent is not an EZ Pass. It should be re-addressed constantly for different acts.
- Conscious: Yeah, I want to believe I don’t have to explain this one. Bad enough I had to list it. But ok, yes, an inebriated person cannot consent. There, you can’t say no one ever told you.
- Unambiguous/Explicit: Assume all of the following to mean “no.” — “Maybe,” “I’m not sure,” “Not yet,” “Kinda,” “Wait a minute,” …I could go on.
- Not contingent upon sexual interest nor sexual arousal: We know. Blue balls are a motherfucker. Still no excuse. Neither your NOR the expressed/implied interest of any potential partners is an invitation to any act. Also, neither your nor the (assumed) arousal of anyone you might want to have sex with is an invitation. Yes, someone might be aroused and still not want to fuck. Crazy times. I know.
- Not compensatory: Yeah, that dinner and a movie were nice. Still not an invitation to fuck. And if you thought it was, you’re a world class asshole.
- Not something that requires a qualifier: No one needs to explain why they are not granting you consent. No is enough.
learn it live it
Dear Ann Coulter of the Day: After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a retard in a tweet during Monday night’s presidential debate, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens penned her this open letter:Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens Global Messenger Special Olympics Virginia
Hey, Anne Coulter, here is some commercially available burn cream.
… He said it all…Balls of steel on this guy. Too bad she’s too ignorant and arrogant to understand the concept of change or empathy.