What Words are in your Notebook?
Dubai - What words inspire, encourage or simply irritate you? Maán Jalal shares a list of words that annoy him the most
Words are interesting. We use them everyday to describe feelings, thoughts, stories. For a writer, words are liberating. More than a form of communication, they are a way for us to make sense of the world. On another completely different level, many writers are wordsmiths and word hoarders. Whenever we learn a new word or find a new way to use a word or we get excited. Sounds a bit odd, I know.
Ever since I was fifteen, I've had a pocket-sized notebook where I wrote down interesting words and phrases I heard. Now though I type the words into my notes app on my phone and email it to myself. At the time, I never knew why I was collecting words like they were a rare commodity. It was just something fun to do. So funny, kooky, new, intriguing and slang words found themselves scribbled into my notebooks.
In hindsight my notebooks gave me a strong and peculiar insight into language and how it affects not only how we talk, but how we act and how and why we connect with certain groups of people. For example, I came across some of my notebooks from the year 2000 recently and realized something interesting about slang words. But for a few exceptions, slang words are like fashion trends - they don't last too long and when we remember them, we cringe for ever having used them.
Another thing I noticed was that I always recorded words that I hated. Words that I found vulgar, annoying, over used, nonsensical and words that were always used in the wrong context.
After extensive analysis I decided to share my top six most hated words and the reason why I hate them. because... why not?
Soggy: I have a fond dislike for this word because it sounds like its meaning, which, to me, is the worst state you can find yourself in. You can never be comfortable and soggy. One is always trying to un-soggify themselves when stuck in a soggy situation.
Murmur: I've found that onomatopoeic words annoy me generally but murmur is the worst. It sounds annoying and when people use it in everyday speech I find it pretentious.
Chit Chat: I'm not sure if this should be considered a term or a word, in either case it's piercing to the ear. It makes no sense. Comedian Michael McIntyre perfectly illustrates my dislike for the word in one of his stand ups. Google it.
Fashionista: Who ever invented this word (I'm pretty sure it was Stephen Fried in his 1993 biography of super-model Gia Carangi) needs to be fined. Heavily. I'm sure it wasn't his intention but the word has morphed in meaning to be as common as using the terms It Girl, Bridezilla and hip & happening.
Engulf: I have no problem with this word being used in the context of science, geography or the weather. But when people use it to describe emotions it makes me cringe.
Essence: In essence, essence is a beautiful word. But given how wildly and commonly it's been used over the last two decades it's synonymous with people who would opt to naming their child after a royal title, a perfume or a fashion house but spelt with Xs, Zs and Ys.