I am a big fan of using language for all that it is worth. Words are beautiful and they allow us to speak to one another without every moving our lips. We can make people read things loudly, whisper in their own heads, or even make people hear something said in the voice of someone that is not them.
But there are some who do not appreciate language as much as I do. They throw around one of the most heinous words in the English language “Appropriate.” This word is difficult for me to grasp because it so rarely has a place in society. When we begin to demand that the world limit itself to our own comfort it retards our sensibilities and the general health and welfare of our brains.
It is devious, seemingly necessary but not, this is one of the few words that I feel has very little to bring to the table. You might be thinking, well Mike, that’s a bit of a hypocritical thing you are saying. I mean, I’m here saying all words are beautiful and then lambasting this one. But you could use it well, it could be a word belonging to a character you’ve created, some ill minded thick skulled simpleton who wishes to turn the world grey and dull. In that context it works brilliantly and you could end up with one of the most iconic villains of our age.
But otherwise what does it do? I suppose we could look at the definition and try to find a place for it outside of storytelling.
- adjective – suitable or proper in the circumstances.
- verb – take (something) for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.
- verb – devote (money or assets) to a special purpose.
I suppose there are at least two ways you can use this word well. However I’m not so sure that sixty six percent of the time people are using it as a verb, they are certainly verbing, but the word itself is being treated as an adjective. A sickening vile contemptible little adjective.
It reminds me of the word “just” which gets a fair amount of abuse. When people say “It’s just x.” Almost always the target is never something simple, its never something deserving of such lowly descriptive terms. But people do it, they take the spark out of life. Some folks just want to see the world in sepia and never feel uncomfortable again.
In particular the person who said it to me today did so because I said “Asshole”. Heck, I was using it to describe an actual asshole, not the figurative meaning. Me from a year ago would have gone off on a tirade against them personally but instead I simply muted them. You can’t win, when someone mistakes their own immaturity for maturity and begins speaking down to others they are beyond help. I’m not in their house, they are not in mine, neither of us has any right to be speaking down to the other. There is no position of dominance and that illusion that they have such qualifications is insulting on a variety of levels.
Which is why I’m speaking to you, whoever you are, as an equal. Even that might be doing me too much of a courtesy. But I appreciate a few minutes of your time.
I hope I never wake up to find myself using this word as an adjective. The possibility that such a day could come is terrifying. I feel like every day following that day would just be darker and darker.