I've been aware and annoyed lately by the seemingly contagious word choices used by the general public. It seems like some words get picked up and associated with certain stories, and that association somehow can't be disrupted. Did you hear about the maverick politician? Or the raunchy video made by the Navy captain? As accurate as these words may or may not be, why can't people mix it up a little?
I think maybe there's a sort of shorthand labeling at play here. Reporters perhaps use the same words over and over and over again so that listeners can immediately get in tune with what story is being discussed. But, I wonder if this repeated word usage only serves to take actual meanings away from the words that represent them. Or worse yet, this repeated word usage may be making fact out of opinion.
I think it's one thing to choose a word to describe a situation the first time. It would probably serve me well to describe my own writing as spellbinding or transformative. But, if those words spread through other voices lacking imagination or their own ability to assess my writing for themselves, then suddenly the world would seem to agree with my chosen self-compliments. This wouldn't make them true, but it could give the impression that the words were true, especially by people not willing to look at my writing for themselves.
On a sort-of related topic, did y'all hear that a new version of Huckleberry Finn is being published without the n-word in it? Rather than filing this under censorship, some scholars are claiming that this will allow the book to be read by a younger audience who is currently being prohibited. There's some argument (although I don't quite see the logic in it myself) that replacing the word with "slave" somehow helps to express Samuel Clemens' original intent in contemporary times. My initial reaction was that this is all wrong, but I'm willing to be open-minded temporarily to see if any argument can change my opinion.
What say you?