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#1141 - 04/05/00 01:52 PM Dysphemism in vogue
jeff Offline

Registered: 03/28/00
Posts: 39
Loc: Chicagoland
Mike (tsuwm),

I'm posting this for all to see, since I felt the subject might be interesting to others.

I sent you a private message earlier, and then discovered your web page. Judging from the contents of the web page at http://members.aol.com/tsuwm, it seems you are no stranger to the dictionary. I must apologize for that previous private message. I am mortified for having falsely assumed you were a younger person, and for falling into an admonitory and didactic mode. Anyway, keep up the good work, and when I have some “worthless” time on my hands, I’ll visit your Worthless Word of the Day site to discover some more worthless words :-) The only question I have is “worthless” to who? Somebody must have felt a need for these curious locutions, or they wouldn’t have been coined. If they were truly without merit, they would not continue to be used, and therefore would be labeled obsolete or at least archaic in our dictionaries. Most of the items you have listed are not so labeled, and so one would presume, are not without worth.

This use of the word “worthless” in your title for the web site is interesting. This mode of expression among today’s youth, i.e. this dysphemism is bemusing to some folks of my generation. Examples of it are ubiquitous. The “Books for Dummies” is a quintessential example. The phenomenon is perhaps an extension of the “shock ‘em out of complacency” attitude that has produced spiked hair styles, and body piercing. This vogue phenomenon has become so commonplace as to become trite. I predict it will have run its course soon, and then we can expect something else to appear in its place. Personally, I tend to eschew such ephemeral herd behavior. As Mark Twain also remarked “Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform”.

#1142 - 04/06/00 01:45 PM Re: Dysphemism in vogue
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass

just a couple of public notes in reply (but keep watching for the private reply :)

o regarding the use of "worthless", this comes directly from my disclaimer page:

meta-disclaimer - use of the term worthless should be considered to be either smart aleck or ironic, depending on your level of involvement and sophistication.

o the disclaimer itself defines the word 'wwftd' /WIFT ed/ (worthless word for the day) -- it's wordy, so I won't repeat it here.


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