I’m in a stationary store the other day, looking for some birthday cards to buy for some of my relatives. I come across these cards that talk in a teasing way about what you’re supposed to do and to not do when you get older. One of them mentioned that after a certain age, you’re not supposed to use the word “cool” to describe things that are clever, interesting or awe-inspiring.
Now since it is my constitutional right to say whatever I want (within reasonable limits of decency, at least), I’m continuing to use the word “cool” whenever I want. So there, birthday card store! Take that!
But IS there a certain age when it does sound ridiculous for you to be using a certain word? To my mind, words definitely mark an era. I associate “groovy” and “Right on!” with the 1960s and “awesome” with the 1980s.
I know that words go across international borders, whether by electronic means such as computers and television or by humans talking with one another. Years ago when I was traveling in the U.K., I heard some Brits using the word “mental” to describe someone else’s odd behavior in a certain situation. And then I started hearing it over here in the U.S. on a regular basis.
Words go in and out of fashion, it seems. One person starts using a certain word and others adopt it. The word then becomes a common term and goes into the dictionary. After a few decades or so, fewer and fewer people use it and the word mostly fades from public consciousness, except for a few diehards.
Before words like “texting” came along, characters in books had conversations. Now texts are occasionally integrated into book plots to add humor, summon help if a character’s in imminent danger or help two characters talk with each other.
And what of sign language such as American Sign Language (ASL) or British Sign Language (BSL)? Does a certain sign representing a word go through the same word fashion cycle until most people stop using it for communication? I wonder.
Have we lost the art of a fine conversation with all our gadgetry? I’m no Luddite, but I miss real conversation because it doesn’t seem to happen so much anymore. (And maybe that’s why we have blogs for those back-and-forth conversations?)
One of the greatest pleasures in life is talking with an expert who really knows his/her topic or having a group conversation in a relaxed environment (living room or quiet restaurant) where everybody contributes their own viewpoints for consideration and discussion. (Guess that’s why people start events at Meetup.com.) Oh, well.
Blog readers, your thoughts?