Grab a beverage and come sit. Let’s conversate for a moment.

If you’ve listened to the radio or TV anytime in the last year you’ve heard stupid words like “conversate.” While I’m not against making up new words, but seriously? Maybe I watch too much NASCAR or sports and that’s why I have picked up on new fangled words.

I’m not dissin’ on the athletes or  race car drivers–I can get totally flummoxed when put on the spot or nervous. I’m directing my ‘irkedness’ to the commentators. They should know better.

What does this mean to us as word crafters?    

What happens when we use unconventional words in our stories?   I don’t think it is my job to expand a reader’s vocabulary, but I won’t dumb down my writing to a 5th grade level if that isn’t my voice or true to my character. 

When our characters converse, how far can we push the boundaries?

Should we or shouldn’t we?

13 thoughts on “Conversate

  1. Meggie,

    You have hit on a ‘sore spot’ for me. My DH and I both took journalism in college and he actually went further in the media than I did. When I hear someone use a word like that, I often rush to the dictionary thinking, “no he didn’t!”

    I can remember the first time I heard someone say “religiosity” and “tornadic”. Both times, I was appalled. Now, they both appear in the dictionary.

    Language is fluid. When words become well used, they are added to the parlance. It really doesn’t matter if we agree or not. All it takes is enough people to embrace the word and it will hit the dictionaries. I believe we can thank Stephen Colbert for ‘truthiness’ which now shows up in dictionaries.

    Whether tongue in cheek, or not, words will end up accepted if enough people use them. It doesn’t matter whether we object or not. Language changes and pop culture affects it in every way. spw

    • Sandee, on the “oh no he didn’t!”:

      A few years ago M&Ms ran a nationwide full-page full-color ad featuring reasons why your kid deserves M&Ms, and one of them was “Because he didn’t jiggle Grandma’s waddle.” (With a picture of an old lady’s wiggly jiggly throat.)

      I hooted. I laughed until I cried.

      The next time I was flipping through a magazine, I saw the same add, only “waddle” had been changed to “wattle.”

  2. *snork* yes, I LOVE making up new words, but I also like the fun ones already in existance, too! And when I’m having a serious conversation, I try to sound intelligent–sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 🙂
    Plethora is a good word, but sometimes I’m simply flummoxed and it sends me into a dither when people ‘conversate’.
    I was watching a Judge Judy a couple of weeks ago and she was in her grammar mode, correcting college-aged kids . . . and conversate was one of those words.

  3. I love that language is fluid. BUT . . . so many of the words we hear today are based more on laziness or ignorance than anything else. Coming up with new words to meet a need is one thing; making up words because you’re too lazy to find the right one is ridiculous. We do have people (I’m thinking of a former president here) who think that, in language, close is good enough. You don’t know the right word, make it up.

    Truthiness is a stupid word. Period. There’s no point to it, and if I could smack Stephen Colbert, I would. Even more, if I could smack the committee who actually voted to add it to the dictionary, I’d dance in joy.

    Yep, this is one of my big-time peeves. Ask our Las Vegas friend about it, Meg. Her blood pressure will soar! 😉

    • Marilyn–
      I’ll have to contact our Las Vegas Twisted Sister about that.
      I’ll stand behind you when you’re ready to smack the committee! 🙂

    • Marilyn,

      I’m actually surprised that more folks don’t recognize the malaproprisms when they hear them. Like ‘waddle’ for ‘wattle’. Wasn’t there a stand-up comedian in the 60’s who’s whole act was based on this?? spw

  4. I believe language is fluid. I try to horde words, learn them and use them appropriately. I try not to be one of the people who misuse and abuse the English language but I do understand style when speaking. Sometimes I feel more comfortable kicking it with my peeps spitting verbs that most of the globe don’t necessarily feel, I think that’s aiight. I won’t force you to appreciate it, but I hope you’ll sit a spell and drop some knowledge of your own. 🙂

    When writing for characters or in a voice that is meant to appeal to popular culture who’s to say what is “right”? Our job as writers is to be brave and push the envelope of creativity and redefine it if we have to. Courage to be different is hard but it can be profound. But nothing is wrong with coloring in the lines, either. Sometimes.

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