Suzanne Reisler Litwin: Horrible, Terrible, Awful Words

I love words. I suppose you can call me a “logophile”, a lover of words. Logophile comes from the Greek words logos meaning “word, speech, discourse” and philos meaning “loving, dear.” Often, I am either physically writing words or composing words in my head. I embrace the meaning of words and try to select them carefully. I also use words in a very “colourful” way. Some people might be offended by my casual usage of colourful words. I find most words, even curse words, have a particular value in language. However, there are a few personal exceptions.

With this love and appreciation of words, comes the insight of words which have a hurtful meaning but are used quite often in daily speech. I’m referring to words which are used often and shouldn’t be. One particular word which I try to avoid is, “perfect”. I consider this word an oxymoron. It doesn't make sense. Nothing in the world is perfect. Perhaps when you score 10/10 on a test, this might be considered a perfect score. I suppose that could be the exception. In life there are always errors, imperfections, and mostly unobtainable perfection.

The quest for perfection in anything is strenuous and sometimes debilitating. If someone would say to me that my article was perfect, I would be insulted. What, no grammar or spelling mistakes??? I don’t strive for perfection, I strive for excellence instead. I don’t know why fashion magazines photo shop their covers to the point that humans look like mannequins. It’s not natural and that’s imperfect. It’s best to go for the trueness of imperfection than the unrealistic form of non-perfection. Bottom line, the word perfect works best in fiction!

There’s another word which I choose not to use and I think it’s a terrible word. It pains me to even write it, but I will to make a point, hate. I would like to strike this word from language. There is nothing good about it. I do hate things like diseases and violence. I find the word hate is used as though it opposites like or love. It’s much more powerful in its awfulness.

This world is littered with so much hate. For this reason, it should be sparingly used and rejected in common used terms. When I hear someone use the word in the simple context of, “I just hate vegetables or I hate winter or I hate feeling tired.” The word hate is so strong in context that it should be reserved for specifics and only specifics. I try to stay away from that one and I encourage my family to do the same. The word hate is on reserve for when it really needs to be launched into a passionate imperfect anger.

My Grandmother Sadye would be offended if we used the word hate. She would say, “Don’t say hate. Just say, I despise it intensely.”

The next word which also strongly upsets me is race. Not the meaning of the word race (noun) when used as a competition with runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc. Not the use of the word which determines which is the fastest in covering a set course, as in “Sasha won the race”. Not the meaning of the word race (verb) used as to move or progress swiftly or at full speed, as in “I raced into the house”.

I’m referring to the word race as in the classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, ancestry, genetics or social relations. Today, this doesn’t make any sense. How can we really classify humans into groups by race? How can we fully determine our lineage of any particular group? This measurement is the furthest thing from perfect or pure! When there is an attempt to actually create race classification, this is where hate breeds and exists.

Now if you want to change all of the context and make the above words work, you could say, “I ran the race perfectly, but I lost and I hate losing!” Here all the words work. But if you say, “I hate her race because mine is perfect”, now we have a big problem. Here lies the problem in our current society.

The play on words like, perfect, hate, and race are delicate. These words need to be used sparingly and with reservation regarding their actual meaning. Race doesn’t really exist. Perfection doesn’t really exist and hate should be removed from language, and not exist.

For the people who know me well and appreciate my “colourful" usage of language”, I hope I didn’t disappoint you. I will express myself in more colourful terms in another article. I F#!+{*=king promise!

—Suzanne Reisler Litwin

—AB

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