Gratitude Sunday: Words Matter

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

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Sunday Haiku
Crystal water makes
feather patterns on my cold
windshield. Icy lace.

Sunday Musings
I made an observation this season on social media. Not that I’m a stickler or picky (I am, I am), but all the spelling and usage errors made me crazy. I didn’t bother to correct everybody’s English on social media; that would hurt their feelings when all they meant was offering good tidings and cheer, and I find mostly people don’t care if their written language use is correct and they get offended when told they are incorrect. But if we don’t all make an effort to use the same language, just what are we saying? Are we saying anything at all? It’s easily alleviated. It takes education, repetition, and persistence. Does anybody remember proper spelling and grammar? If communication is muddled it is easier to make a muddle and keep information muddled. An uneducated society is much easier to mislead than an educated one.

I have some letters from my grandmother who might have finished 8th grade, but not likely, and her creative spelling and fanciful handwriting are a wonder. She was mostly self taught and I find it charming the effort she made to say what she wanted with her pen.

That’s why language was standardized and dictionaries were invented. If you read documents from the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s spelling and punctuation were footloose and fancy free, and meaning and intent were often obscured because of ambiguities in the language. Even into the 1900s spellings had variations, and now with social media, creative applications of spelling, grammar, and punctuation are enjoying a new high.

With social media and texting, people feel free to shorten or create words and much of what is said cannot be interpreted. Or they ignore conventional usage so a person does not know if they mean two, to, or too. Then you have to ask what was meant. May as well stick to standard English in the first place.

Here are some seasonal examples from this year:
Happy Hollidays. (Possibly forgivable. Not.)
Merry Christmas too All. (Also All? Inclusive to what?)
Merry Christmas to you and your famliy’s. (Wild apostrophes! Plural [more than one] is “families”.)
Merry Christmas from our family to you’res. (Wait, what? Most creative word invention I’ve seen.)
Mary Christmas. (One of my favorite Christmas characters: Mary)
Merry Christmas to Al, of my friends and family. (Dear sweet Al, the only one I really want to wish a Merry Christmas.)

As I said I did not correct these good wishes on social media. Why crush the spirit of good will over words? Because words do matter. Words can crush as quickly as fists.

Words can also build. Words can share information, can convey ideas, can affect and effect (there’s a tricky couple of words) social policy, and can change a culture. That’s what I want this year; to help build a better world through words. Using words is never easy because they are easy to misconstrue. Did you mean this or did you mean that? And how do you express something you hardly have words for?

Words are the communicators but we are the operators. How we use our words is important. For example, and this is a wild example, what does the word moron mean to you? Or idiot? Do moronic idiot and idiotic moron mean the same thing? Yes, I’m having a little fun with nonsense. Applying moron, idiot, moronic idiot, or idiotic moron to real people either verbally or in print is just not polite. Used in fiction, it indicates certain character traits, don’t they? Those fictionally bestowed character traits are so easily transferred when used with actual people. Maybe it is best to avoid words like this altogether even though they are in the dictionary. We all know what we mean by them, but with all the words we have available to us can we find another way to describe what we like and don’t like? I’m saying when people do or say things we don’t like that we don’t automatically say things about the person. If we are moved to a comment, it may be more productive to comment about the action they performed or words they said that we don’t like, rather than attacking the character of the person.

I’m finicky. As in picky. As in picky, picky, picky. And as picky as I am, I still make mistakes. Because I know I do, I still take the time to look up words that are easy to confuse; I don’t even bother to trust my own memory. I won’t make a list for you. Most people don’t care. If you are interested, I’d be happy to tutor you in English, but I won’t bother generally to correct your grammar or spelling on social media. I will ask you if I don’t understand what you are saying. I expect nothing less from others, as I take great effort to use words to the best of my ability. I’m lucky. I’m only just fair at taking criticism, but I love to learn so it sort of balances out.

If you don’t understand why the above holiday greetings were not correct, I blame recent educational standards as well. It’s not just about you. It’s about how the education system failed you. With this caveat: you can, and have always been able to, teach yourself. That’s right. You don’t need a teacher to guide you through it (though I find when you need a teacher, they come). You can check out books from the local lending library, you can look up stuff on the internet, you can ask experts sometimes even in their own work space.

Here’s to a new year where we know words are important. Communication is nothing without them. Let’s use words to build each other up, to improve our society, to object to process and procedure without denigrating the people behind those processes and procedures. And when a breach shows we can still say what we think with civility, even if it takes sophisticated words. Because we are adults, not 3rd graders. And we know words matter.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The ground may be covered with snow and we may be feeling the cold, but the earth knows what is right around the corner. Look at these little greenies popping up already.

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Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} No Letting Go (2016, not rated), the difficult subject of childhood mental illness. I found this movie painful to watch because of the sensitive material. * The Late Show (1977, rated PG) with Lily Tomlin and Art Carney, a neo-noir mystery I’ve never watched before. Speaking of spelling, at the end of this movie Carney’s and Tomlin’s characters are coming out of a cemetery after burying a friend. The sign (obviously a prop and not the real cemetery sign) says “Hollywood Cemetary”. One word worth double checking every time. * Another Earth (2011, rated PG – 13), a mirror earth suddenly shows up in the sky. * Netflix’s series The OA (2016, not rated TV series), I can’t tell you anything, because it would all be spoilers, except you MUST watch this for yourself. I was so amazed and impressed I watched it twice and the weird thing now is I want to watch it again or give me another season. * Netflix’s series The Magicians (2015, not rated TV series) from the young adult novel of the same name by Lev Grossman. Magic students find a variety of upper education options outside the magical university.

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Currently ReadingTruly Madly Guilty (2016, fiction) by Liane Moriarty, an exploration of relationship dynamics while waiting to find out what happened the day of the barbeque. * White Trash: The 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America (2016, social history) by Nancy Isenberg. This is a thick professionally researched treatise that has a long queue at my local lending library. I can see already I will have to read it in more than one check-out period. Ms Isenberg has done her homework.

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This week I have been grateful for:

  • A few family members who were able to get together for a holiday celebration, almost thwarted by a weather event, but a thaw occurred in the nick of time.
  • Being the new owner of a beautiful hand-made queen-sized quilt, with pink and purple material picked especially with me in mind, from my gorgeous niece. As if she doesn’t have enough to do with a husband, a 5 yo, and a 1 yo. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such energy. She makes clever things too like baby clothes and baby doll clothes.
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  • Smelling the crisp cold air as the wind pushes it through the cracks in the house.
  • The “thrio” of squirrels playing together on my back yard fence and in the neighbor’s trees. First time I’ve seen three of them together.
  • Not losing our electricity or water during recent weather events.
  • Ms Techno-ditz received a stand alone 3.5 floppy disk drive, so I can retrieve some old work and work on it. Another learning curve ahead.
  • Being an auto-didact. Even when it sorta scares me or seems over my head.
  • My own walls and roof which protect me and mine against the weather.
  • Hearing the laughs and screams as the neighbors and their children play in the snow with other neighbors. Enough snow for a good snowball fight or a shallow snow angel, not enough for a snow man or snow wall/fort.
  • How good doing the dishes feels when the weather is this cold. It’s all about the hot water.
  • Conscious breathing. In. Out.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

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Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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4 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Words Matter

  1. piratesorka says:

    If I ever get ambitious or crazy enough to devise a book and put my thoughts down on paper I shall hire you to be my editor. I never had Redpath so I know I am not nearly as careful a writer as I need to be. Sometimes I write more as I talk which I am sure is most likely chaotic reading!

    No new books or movies just a lot of this and that craziness. My discovery of the misery of Sciatica has quite taken my brain for a jungle ride through hell. I now walk like an old woman and I refuse to see myself as such so no glancing into mirrors as I walk anywhere now.
    Stay safe, stay warm and I hope you get your washer fixed, I still need to call a plumber.

    Like

  2. Tee says:

    Typos on social media, forums an chatrooms and such used to drive me crazy too. Over time, I came to learn that many people are posting from their cell phones, their words get auto-corrected and they don’t bother fixing it. Many, but not all typos are because of that, so it doesn’t bother me much anymore. What drives me crazy lately is online news and articles that contain typos. Where are the editors??

    Like

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