Some people see patterns in numbers. I never can see them which frustrates me a little. But give me a bunch of letters and I can make all kinds of words with them.
I have always loved playing word games. It doesn’t matter what kind – if it’s a game with words, I’ll play. But Scrabble would be my favourite.
Growing up, my family would spend three weeks at my grandparents’ unit in Caloundra (QLD). Of course we went to the beach, read books, ate ice-cream, had fish and chips and enjoyed our daily trek to the bakery. But among my favourite memories is playing Scrabble with my mum, dad and brother. My sister was really too little to play, but she liked to ‘help’. And we would sit there, looking out at the ocean and play with little lettered-tiles.
It wasn’t uncommon for us to play 2-3 games a day!
In fact my memories of Caloundra and Scrabble are so strong that on a holiday there late last year, I bought a necklace at a market. Part of it was made from an old type-writer button with the letter “N” on it. Another piece was an old wooden Scrabble tile with a butterfly on the front. (Butterflies remind me of my Nan whose unit we stayed in.) On the back was the letter “N”. It is my happy necklace. It reminds me of happy times. Especially the Scrabble tile and typewriter letter!
Words are strange things. They are everywhere. They have the power to tell stories, to impart knowledge, and bring back memories. They have the power to uplift and to hurt. Something uttered many years ago, when thought upon today, can take us back to the place where we originally heard it. And remind us of how we laughed, or cried. Words are powerful.
There are however, some words in the English language that I wouldn’t miss if they were wiped out completely. There are some that make me cringe, shudder or feel slightly ill.
Other than the usual profanities people utter, some of the most grating for me are:
- FROCK — I know it is used to describe the gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) dresses spotted on the red carpet, but I cringe at the word. When I was little, an old-fashioned, rather large aunt (great aunt I think), commented on what a lovely frock I was wearing. To this day, ‘frock’ is what old, fuddy-duddy ladies wear.
- SLACKS — similar to the reasons above. Just plain old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy
- BLOUSE — didn’t women in the 70s wear them? Probably with flared slacks.
- PEDAL-PUSHERS — another remnant of the 70s. These days they are just known as 3/4 pants
- CHUCK, CHUNDER, HURL and BARF— actually any word that reminds me of the horrors of gastro
- INFESTATION — just brings to mind a few scenes from Indiana Jones movies. You know the ones where there were gazillions of cockroach things, or the large pit of snakes. Which brings me to my next word….
- SNAKE — the only thing worse than one snake is multiple snakes. That’s all I have to say.
- SECRETION and DISCHARGE — just makes me think of bodily fluids that are not particularly nice
- HOSIERY and PANTYHOSE — the only thing I picture when I hear these words are the tan-coloured, thick, support-like stockings that larger ladies used to wear. Or the type that old ladies wore that wrinkled around the ankles.
There are also some words or phrases that I find are over-used, and have become cliche. These phrases are often used in the work-place. You know, the ones that make your eyes roll. For example:
- at this particular point in time — why not just use the word ‘now’?
- at the end of the day — that’s when we go home, right?
- bottom-line — yep, everything comes down to that
- get on board — on board what? Train, bus, plane????
- benchmark — makes me think we are in the gym
- touch base — I didn’t know we were playing baseball
- win-win — no, that NEVER really happens at work, does it?
- hit the ground running — no one has ever done that in my experience. People usually hit the ground with a thud.
- think tank — totally ridiculous.
In fact I once knew people who would play ‘work-place lingo bingo’ during staff meetings, they were used that often! Certainly made their staff meetings more interesting, if nothing else. As much as I would have loved to have played (after all, it was a word game), I would never have been able to play with a straight face.
So there you have it. The words that don’t usually make it into my vocabulary.
Tell me, what are the words that you could do without?