Cross Town with words


Cross Town with Carl Dow

I reiterate that there must be full emphasis on quality words

no matter in what way, shape or form that they may appear

Being fundamentally conservative, and I'm not talking politics here, although John Diefenbaker will always be one of my favourite politicians, I'm talking of resisting change that is being made simply for the sake of change.

This time it's about words. One time, while working my way through a 40-pounder of brandy, I remember thinking, words are so beautiful, if they didn't exist I'd invent them. So I take offense when they are abused

In my early days in journalism my attention was often caught by politicians who would declare that they would support or oppose something in any way, shape or form. It took a great deal of restraint to not challenge the speaker to explain what was the difference in meaning between the words shape and form? There is no difference. They mean the same thing. But the speaker would use the phrase as if he was making profound use of the English language.

Speaking profoundly, another politician would say at this point in time. I would think, what's the matter with the word now?

Another grievance is the over use of the word people. A report will say that 18 people were arrested during the demonstration. And I will nod with relief, thinking I'm so glad that the writer used the word people otherwise I might have thought that they were referring to dogs or horses or cats. What's wrong with saying, 18 were arrested?

Whatever happened to simple future tense? In times past one would say the parade will be held on May Day. Then that got changed to a more complicated, this May Day. And if that weren't enough, as they say, the latter was graduated to this coming May Day. But today, this is also clearly not enough. Now you will read that the parade will be held on this upcoming May Day. Upcoming? In the spirit of unity of opposites, please explain downcoming.

A cause for sleepless nights is the word person. A person is an individual. People refers to a race or nation.

You could say that 18 (let's use the number again, and understand that they are all human beings) won ten dollars on a single lottery ticket. If they were 18 men then you could say 18 men; if they were 18 women, you could say 18 women. However, if the winners were both women and men, you could rationally say, 18 persons. But definitely not, 18 people.

Let's face it, generally speaking men are men, and women are women. Most important, and contrary to the ruminations of such as Freud and Jung, men and women are members of the complimentary sex, (they even fit together), not of the opposite sex. So making a distinction between the two is merely acknowledging fact, and a happy fact as far as I'm concerned.

Finally, just for now, I want to deal with the word now being more and more commonly used: reiterate.

The dictionary says that the word iterate means repeat. Therefore, if you say reiterate what you're saying is repeat-repeat.

You'll hear it almost daily, mostly from politicians who are notorious for repeat-repeating, but I've noticed that the word reiterate has escaped the bounds of its origin.

The word reiterate has a new meaning that is used in place of the word emphasis.

To wit:

• I reiterate that we will send flowers and cards of good will, not bombs, to our adversaries.

• I emphasize that we will send flowers and cards of good will, not bombs, to our adversaries.

I don't know why they need to use reiterate when emphasize will do but I yield to the fact that language changes more often than not in subtle ways.

Some of the things I think about as I go out and about Cross Town.

Happy Trails

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