Did you notice how limited our vocabulary can get with the dumbing down of mass media and entertainment? It may be prime time to wrestle some vocabulary back into our lips.
I love my younger brother, the master craftsman and champion bodybuilder. He and I even co-authored a very well-received book together (This Body This Life). However, he loves to tease me with the word “awesome”, knowing how annoyed I can get. Of course, given his law degree and background, he has an extensive vocabulary. He just loves to annoy me now and then as any sibling would, for harmless fun.
And when you turn on the television or cable, and watch many of the English documentaries, dramas and other entertainment, try to count how many times someone on screen scream the word “awesome” in one hour. You might begin to realize just how many on-screen personalities overuse this word.
I have heard some people used the word “awesome” to replace and supplant every word that should have been used, such as: astounding, beautiful, divine, extraordinary, outstanding, spectacular, sterling, surprising, unbelievable, wonderful, and so on.
However, we should realize the English language provides many words that would work better in different contextual scenarios. “Awesome” is not a “be-all” word for any and all scenarios.
For example, when something wonderful happens that we are grateful for, we do not just go lame and lazy and say, “It’s awesome!” We might want to express it exactly how we feel, “I am so grateful for this wonderful outcome! Thank you!”
When we want to give a genuine compliment to someone who has achieved something extraordinary, such as completing a very challenging triathlon, or successfully defending his doctoral dissertation, instead of saying, “You are awesome!” we might actually be meaning to say, “Congratulations, I am so impressed by your achievement!”
And obviously, we cannot be meaning to say, “the food is awesome” when we actually intended to say “the food is delicious and the presentation is a visual delight”.
There are many overused words in our verbal and written communication, and can become unfortunate cues that disconnect us from our intended audiences. Expanding our vocabulary is no chore, but a great way to expand our view of the world, and inviting another person to see the vastness of the world we see as well.
Seamus Phan has 33 years of professional experience. Polymath Problem-Solver & Strategist – Leadership, Cybersecurity, Branding, Crisis, Scientist, Artist, Author, Aviation, and Theologian. Some articles are reproduced at McGallen & Bolden, where he is CTO and Head of Content. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2020. All rights reserved.