• Michael McClellon

Resurrecting the Word Graveyard

Assuming you are one of those people who live under a rock, you probably do not have a robust vocabulary. This would be because you are surrounded by objects that have a limited amount of adjectives that can describe them, being just the rock above your head and the substrate beneath you. You wouldn’t possibly use words such as “immaculate”, “awesome”, or “perfect” to describe your situation, as it would be completely nonsensical and misleading to describe a rock or the dirt in such a way.

Let us now assume you do not live under a rock. Let us assume that you interact with a normal amount of objects during your day that most other people also interact with. These can include objects in your house, features of the Earth and nature, food and drinks, and even other people who also do not live under rocks. Despite the increase of different interactions with different things, there are still very few that deserve to be described with the words presented above. Yet they still are, and with this, it creates the word graveyard.

The word graveyard is a terrible place, filled with words that had their meanings killed through false usage. Words such as “perfect”, “awesome” and quite recently “immaculate” have been murdered by non-rock dwellers that employ them for false purposes. How does this happen, you might ask? Well, it happens when you talk to your peers about the awesome smoothie you had from this ice cream place. Or maybe the time when you saw that immaculate joke on social media after eating the perfect bowl of cereal. And that is how it happens. A most brutal death by a thousand cuts, as each time falsely used, the word’s true meaning is hampered until it is no longer used accurately and condemned to death. Members of the word graveyard then stay there as the now lifeless entities no longer able to be truly expressed. As well as exaggerating descriptions, understatements, or litotes, also send words to the word graveyard. This happens with words like “great”, “good” and “fine”, which not only impair the vocabulary of society, but it once again builds a brick wall of false descriptions that separates true meaning from the object being described.

Chances are, if you do live under a rock, you have not committed the crime of killing the meaning of words, so this isn’t your problem. This article, however, is no way advocating the under-a-rock lifestyle, as this too has many problems. But if you are the non-rock dweller that commits acts of linguistic murder, you have a duty to repent, and change your ways. Although this may not seem as such a big problem to you, the loss of words with their true meanings is detrimental to society. If too many words are doomed to the word graveyard for long enough, their meaning will be faded and no longer truly known, which results in society diverging itself from reality by using the wrong words for certain descriptions. It also drastically limits vocabulary and prevents other words that more accurately describe things from ever being used. In reality, that milkshake you had the other day was not “immaculate”. It is no where near to being holy, or free of imperfections. Additionally, your day at school was much more than just “good” or even “pretty good”, as you got to learn new things and be with your friends. Rather than encircling itself with this linguistic crisis, society should attempt to expand their vocabulary and use words that accurately describe the objects they interact with. If this were to happen, we would be one step closer to eliminating the word graveyard by resurrecting one word at a time.

Apart from the need to protect our words from this persecution, the application to our daily lives of this proposed solution would also make many of our problems much easier. Take the action of writing for example. Words like “awesome” or “divine” often appear in text messages or in casual conversation. But because of this overusage, they now appear in the essays of school children and even of those in higher education, which makes their writing level unable to reach its full potential. Without the knowledge of words that can be used to correctly describe whatever children are writing about, they are left to killing innocent words that have no right to be effectively removed from the English language. This malpractice then becomes ingrained, and without refrain, it produces writers unable to describe things in creative detail or with real substance. And when writers use dead words like “awesome” or “good” to describe things, the word itself ceases to exist as a good word choice even if it is used correctly, the notorious fate of being in the word graveyard.

What makes writing more profound and “better” often involves adding more imagery. This is done by either making comparisons, by using compelling diction, or both. These strategies require a command over language that is more than just using around 20 words to describe things unworthy of being described in such a way. Think about the benefits to your academics that expanding your vocabulary would yield. You would not only be improving your writing skills, which has limitless benefits, but you would also contribute to the resurrection of words from the word graveyard and save them from a doom that will ultimately destroy the English language.

Having shown how not to use certain words in the English language, one should also fully understand when it is appropriate to use words like “awesome” or “perfect”. When something truly inspires such an emotional intensity that it fills you with admiration, but also causes you to cower in fear, that is when you should say it is awesome. The power of God is awesome. Witnessing a volcano explode is awesome. Even swimming with whale sharks could be described as awesome. The resurrection of these words will yield a society with more words to describe experiences like these without worrying about them being overused to the point of uselessness. It would truly highlight experiences and objects worthy of being described with these words, and bring more words into the vocabulary of everyday non-rock dwellers. That would truly be awesome.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

To read more articles from Michael McClellon click here.

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