Sunday, March 23, 2014

Enriching, Yet Sullying, Our Vocabularies (Warning: Explicit Language Used)

Most of the time, I'm all for enlarging vocabularies.  After teaching high school and college students, I'm usually for any kind of word enrichment that goes beyond "adorbs" and "totes magoats"...or, even worse, swear words.

No, you have not wandered into the Pristine Language Plane of the Internet.  I admit, I drop the f-word just as unabashedly as the next person...but the way young people use the f-word these days?  Indiscriminately?  So much that it loses meaning?

I really hate that.

The f-word is becoming so common, and so without meaning.

And especially when the English language has so many other suitable and eloquent replacements...it's just unforgivable.  It really is.

But...there are always exceptions.  Sometimes a common cuss word is exactly what's needed to describe a particular situation or person.

For example: fuckery, noun; total nonsense, or a wrong or unfair action; Synonyms include: bulls#!t, a crock, a scam, etc.

Your Author's Illustration Story:  For the first time in a loooong time, I'm scanning over the ads from our town's weekly circular.  The layout of the ad for the larger grocery chain goes something like this:


Page one, two and three: "Dollar Days" deals consisting of mostly lunchmeats, potato chips, frozen foods, "loaded" muffins, and other sundry processed goods.  You know, good, solid, healthy choices.  Redeeming deals include a dozen eggs and red bell peppers for $1.  The Hidden Trap Award goes to the 5.3 oz Chobani Greek Yogurt for $1 each...but only the flavored ones, which means more sugar and preservatives.

Page four:  Other store-wide deals...mostly meat.  Nothing terribly alarming here.

Page five: A recipe for "Sausage Tostada Grande"...Grande meaning "big", you know.  However, most of this page is devoted to a larger-than-life photo and ensuing advert for General Mills cereal (2/$6).  More processed goodness.

Page six: The sad page, given over to crackers, sugar, candy, bakery desserts, and a product advertised as "bacon marmalade spread".  There are cut-out coupons on the side of this page for: Velveeta, Kraft Singles, Velveeta Shells and Cheese, bacon, hotdogs, Planters peanuts, Capri Sun, Coke products, cream cheese, and Doritos...foodstuffs I don't stock at my house very often, unfortunately.

And then, finally...

Page seven:  Two-thirds of the page is for produce (finally, right?!). Yes, it's true that the produce section of the grocery store is significantly smaller than the processed food section, hence the smaller advert space.  That would explain why about only fifteen items in the produce section are spotlighted.  But funnily enough?  The bottom third of this page is devoted to sales going on in the Wine & Spirits department.  Huh.  I guess wine is produce (grapes).

Keep in mind that most American people recognize that a $1 is a relatively good deal.  A 24 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce for $1?  A 1-lb box of pasta for $1?  And then...three 7.5 oz. bags of Totino's Pizza Rolls for $4?  Three packages of Oscar Mayer hotdogs for $5?

Bargain!  Bargain!  Bargain!

But, $1.98 for pound of Brussels Sprouts?  $1.58 for a pound of Bartlett pears?  $3.99 for a 3-lb bag of kid-size Granny Smith apples?  Now, that's a little more nebulous.  People have no frame of reference on prices like that.  They don't know if it's good or bad...and in the end, if money's a deciding factor, they opt for what they know...$1.33 for a bag of Totino's Pizza Rolls.

The USDA says we're supposed to be eating more produce.  Rising health insurance rates insist that we make healthier diet changes.  But the reality hasn't caught up yet.  People still want their Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas, Banquet microwave dinners, and extra butter popcorn.  And THAT'S why the limited produce sales are relegated to the back page (or two-thirds of it) of a seven-page circular.

Total fuckery.  There's just really no other word for it.

Incidentally, do I sound really old and bitter and cynical today?  Heh.  You kids get off my lawn!

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