Of the many advantages that older age entitles, I like the pass we get while criticizing new culture shifts and conventions that evolve in our wake. Instead of beings haters* or heretics, we’re simply deemed grumpy and unworthy of grasping the nuances of or appreciating the devices of modernization. Take language, for example. One of my pet peeves is the acceptance of sloppy and stupid words that creep into the American lexicon. A recent example is “ginormous”. Added to Webster’s dictionary, I suppose it fits nicely between gigantic and enormous to better define “huge”, but I thought “humongous” was perfectly OK. Seriously, the Oxford Dictionary contains 171,476 words. Do we really need another so patently redundant? Granted, some new words are useful as they describe things that are new to our culture – like “cannabusiness”. I get it. We need a way to define the burgeoning demand and retail activity resulting from pot legalization. But most new words are weird or lazy. How about “meatspace”? Inserted in the dictionary last year, it means the physical world as opposed to the virtual realm. Gross! The lazy words usually eliminate the need for other useful ones. Take “hella”. While not yet in the dictionary, it has come into common use in Norcal (lazy shorthand) to emphasize magnitude. For example, instead of saying “a hell of a lot”, millenials often say “hella”, meaning the same thing while eliminating the need for a preposition, indefinite article and a noun. Brilliant! But the most troubling of new words is not so much creepy, lazy or redundant. I suppose I can live with those. The new Webster word that most disturbs me is “unfriend”. Yes, anyone on Facebook has used the term (guilty as charged) and it has its applications. But what troubles me is what it suggests about friendship in our cyber-culture. Is friendship nowadays so easily acquired and disposed of that it can be discarded with a mouseclick (usually because of who they voted for)? Oops, my bad. Nobody uses a mouse anymore.
Having said all that, I must confess to my affection for a slang word recently introduced to me by my daughter. I was in her beautiful Airstream the other day admiring the workmanship that went into her amazing restoration. I commented on how difficult it would be for me to achieve such precision in Sparta as I was doing everything with a jigsaw. She said, “Seriously, Dad. Get the proper tools. You don’t want your work to look janky!”. I knew exactly what she meant and could think of no better term. While it is not yet in Webster’s, janky gets my vote for the 2020 edition.
Leslie’s beautiful Airstream.
I guess I’m why caulk and putty were invented.
*another new and useful term