Sunday, June 03, 2012


Should verisimilitude be a concern ... decades from now, fiction representing American life circa 2012 would do well to incorporate liberally into the dialogue the word "amazing."  The world I inhabit has not seemed to tire of this word.  If you watch TV, hardly a commercial break goes by without the word coming up.  Pay attention, readers, and if you haven't noticed it before see if you don't notice it now.  See if it doesn't drive you a little batty.  See if you don't start regretting the word as soon as you say it yourself (as I do, not infrequently).  There are two main variations - the more abrupt "uh-mazing" and the slightly whinier "ammaaaayzing."  Either way, the object described is only rarely amazing in any boring old twentieth century way. 

We all fall into linguistic habits and ruts.  Certainly I've allowed this very blog to be the site of a lot of my lazier brainstorming and freewriting.  But for the sake of mere diversity, for the sake of the joys of that a larger vocabulary might bring, I submit to the public this plea: that we shake things up and reinvigorate our diction with a host of other words that do just as well, sometimes better, to describe "a thing I've encountered that I like."  We might start with lovely, superb, spectacular, wonderful, special, terrific, capital (as in, "capital idea, old man!" - arch, but appealing).  We can even dust off neat.  It would be pretty neat if people eased up a bit on amazing.


JeanRZEJ said...

Big vocabularies are for old people who are by that point so jaded that they can't use any of their immense options for describing feelings of fresh experiences and new discoveries, so all they can say is that anyone who describes experiences as such must be being hyperbolic. They should not belittle, they should pity, for those who can no longer be amazed are essentially the pinnacle of the human experience. If only!

That's an elaborate way of calling you a jaded old man. Ha! No, but, really, this describes a more general trend of kids abusing overstatement to the point where there are no words which can describe the superlative - unless you use gross understatement! Gross understatement mixed with excessive particularity is the answer, I tell you, not a variation in superlatives. After all, I think people who utilize smaller vocabularies (even if they comprehend larger ones) compensate in intonation. But, whatever the case, you can use such phrases as 'kind of felt something somewhere, maybe in the tip of my pinky' or 'there could have been a twinge of something in a gland or two'. In this way you gain the enhancement of abstraction combined with bodily sensations, which is like the ultimate combination of expressionism and impressionism. Just reading that - you're already wondering what it was that could be so amazing, right? Well, I'm not telling. But, let me tell you, if I have to say it in plain English, that which it is is, in a word, awesome. No, wait, I mean -


Christopher Small said...


jdrrr said...

I also object to "awesome"

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