Sunday Firesides: Do Your Part to Revive Tired Words

For thousands of years, humanity has used language to tell stories and convey ideas. But in recent decades, as technology has evolved at an increasingly rapid pace, words have become obsolete: we’re no longer writing letters or drawing pictures but instead recording data on screens that are better suited for storing our personal information than conveying meaning.

The “die red” is a word that needs to be revived. The Sunday Firesides are doing their part to revive this word by encouraging people to use it in everyday conversations.

Made with “love,” tortilla chips. (Though it is unlikely to be among the top five feelings felt by the factory worker who churns out those chips.)

Employers who refer to their workers as “family.” (Because your loving relatives would abruptly end your connection and give you fifteen minutes to gather your belongings and leave the premises).

Automobile manufacturers that associate their automobiles with “liberty.” (Forget about the chains that monthly loan installments will impose.)

The corporate world has plagiarized some of society’s greatest phrases, using the strength of their original meanings to pique our acquisitive impulses or cast a rosier light on a bleak workplace, and eviscerating their meanings in the process.

Institutions aren’t the only ones that have suffocated our language’s treasures.

Individuals who refer to someone they met online a few times as a “friend”; influencers who claim to present an entirely “authentic” self while striking a pose that is anything but; adults who describe mild childhood teasing as “traumatic” — individuals can rob once-heavy words of their former heft as well.

We have little vocabulary left to express ourselves clearly and truly when words get exhausted from abuse and misuse.

What do we describe a sunset that is literally awe-inspiring if a pizza is “awesome”? What do you name someone who has spent years winning your confidence if any stranger is your “brother”? What can we term an act that demands genuine, perhaps expensive risk if revealing a mental health battle on social media – to widespread affirmation and admiration — is “courageous”?

On maintain the correct punch of words and the worth of the things they represent, we must all behave as language conservationists, avoiding mercenary manipulations that affix significant monikers to empty packing and always striving to speak more carefully.

 

 

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