Words Matter – I

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Newspaper & Portrait Photography

It may sound trite, but there are words I do not like.  It is not necessarily that they do not sound pleasant, although that may be part of it. And, have you noticed words do not sound the same to everyone? For instance, “coin” is one of those for me. When I say it one of my daughters chuckles quietly. I think I pronounce it normally, but obviously I do not say the simple four letter word correctly. My Mom had a similar problem with the word “oxygen,” however I find that more forgivable. But, I am getting sidetracked before I actually begin.

What I intended to discuss are words that either do not sound like what they mean or that have meanings with which I disagree. Let me start with depression, which sounds like a lower surface, a dip or swag. A road uncared for might have a depression. An old floor may be depressed in spots. This versatile word may be applied to the economy or even a weather pattern. You get it, but what if this word is used regarding another human? Many people immediately think of a person in a bad mood, sad probably and maybe even lazy. Too often the person suffering from depression is told to “snap out of it” or “get over” themselves. Even if not said in actual words that is likely the message they receive, whether intentional or not. I believe it may be time for a new word for this complex diagnosis which covers an entire spectrum of symptoms from mild and transient to suicide.

Another word, or term rather, is not only inadequate, like depression, but is also inaccurate.  “Domestic violence” describes a range of situations from emotional and physical threats to injury or even murder. There is nothing “domestic” about “violence!” This terminology should never have been used to begin with and it serves an injustice to victims of violence, whether in the home or not. Recently, the term “Relationship Violence” is sometimes used in media reporting and I strongly support this more accurate terminology. Some prefer “intimate partner violence,” but in my opinion this comes up short. First, it obviously leaves out victims whose abuser is someone other than a partner. The abuser could be any relative or friend with whom one has a relationship. Statistics indicate one in three women will be the victim of intimate partner violence, but including other types of relationships would most certainly increase the statistic greatly and there is no reason to limit attention to a particular type of relationship or gender.

For many years October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we have been encouraged to wear pink to bring attention to this illness which effects over 124 women per 100,000 population (1.3 men/100,000). Wear pink if you choose, it isn’t my favorite color and reminds me of

milek9giagirl babies more than women, but I would suggest pink ribbons do little to combat this deadly disease which has touched most of us either directly or indirectly. More helpful is knowing the signs of breast cancer, performing self exams and having regular mammography.

Someone in all sincerity I’m sure, has designated today as Purple Thursday and we are asked to “Wear a little purple with our pink” today. I must admit purple is one of my favorite colors, but rather than looking for something special to wear today I am writing this post. I wish to bring attention to Relationship Violence and encourage each of you, regardless of gender, to take action against this devastating situation which, like cancer, effects so many. Relationship Violence may take various forms other than physical abuse, including emotional, sexual, financial or verbal mistreatment. The signs and symptoms can be reviewed Online, including such sites as this National Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

  • Let’s be better informed.
  • Let’s be brave enough to report, whether it is personal or is suspected in another.
  • Let’s refuse to say, “Domestic Violence” from this day forward.

4 thoughts on “Words Matter – I

  1. Sue, Your blogs make me laugh, make me reminisce and make me think. You are right that the words we hear affect how we respond to those words. Your blog made us all think about abuse wherever and with whomever it occurs. I will always think of you whenever I hear these words and will think about the true meaning.
    Sometimes words are used by media and become commonly used by the public without thought of the impression those words are giving us. That is why I do not like labeling people into groups (although I know we have to do it for various reasons). Sometimes I will tell you my reaction when a spectator held up a sign that stated, “Your team smells like old people.”

    By the way, I wrote this whole response and accidentally deleted it. The first response had such better use of words.

    On a similar topic that you mentioned at the beginning– pronunciation of words and, also, grammar. I once had a friend who pronounced “oil” as “oril.” ( I had a time getting auto-spell to let me spell it like that). I sometimes find myself saying “Bargestown Road.” Mispronunciation doesn’t catch my attention as much as grammar differences, thanks to Mrs. Raley, my high school English teacher. By the way, we made fun of her because she said “afred” for afraid. So I notice “affect” in your article. It occurred to me lately that I have incorrectly interchanged “affect” and “effect.” I would like to see my high school papers, which I finally threw away in a move, to see if I was taught this way or if I learned them wrong.
    Also another set is “let” and “leave.” I have noticed these are reversed from my way of saying them by people from the Pennsylvania Dutch area. It all depends what we grow up hearing.

    So thanks for making me think and for calling to our attention of use of words as they relate to abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lula, you should do a blog! I appreciate your taking the time to comment and value your thoughts. I am never sure about “effect vs. affect” and have almost given up on that one. I’m sure no expert about words (unlike you and my daughter and other teachers), but simply write opinions. I plan to continue this theme re’ “words”. Want to be a guest contributor?

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  3. This is some heavy subject matter!
    In thinking about the “wear pink” for breast cancer… I have always had very strong feelings about the pink items, all the t-shirts, jewelry, etc. that have something on them advertising breast cancer. I have had many such items given to me by people with well meaning intentions and I would never hurt anybody’s feelings by refusing them or appearing ungrateful. I also know that some of the proceeds from the sales go toward the cause, which is a good thing.
    For me, these items are just reminders of the cancer and the hell I went through having it, or rather getting rid of it.
    Thanks for your insight Auntie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Syl. Of course I was thinking of you, Elfie, Pat and so many others who have fought breast cancer. I know that everyone sees things differently, but I do believe that I would resent pink soup cans, etc. even more if I had that disease. I think that women also deserve more than “Save the Ta Tas”. It is about saving lives!

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