Just to be clear, any perceived relationship between Darwin’s Origin of Species and this, is a patent fabrication by you, the reader, in an attempt to besmirch me, the eccentric weirdo. The shameful truth is that I don’t actually know that much about origins and stuff; let alone the origin of stuff.
That said, I do know some stuff…
Were you aware that in the past one person was able to ‘sleep with’ one other person, without indulging in carnal pleasure? I know. It blew my mind too, like, totally.
What about that word, ‘like’? Apparently it’s not intended as a conjunction or even as an interjection; in fact it’s not supposed to do anything other than denote preference or similarity. Hard to believe that a word so frequently used in youthful conversation has only two, rather mundane, meanings.
On the topic of meanings, who knew that ‘terrible’ didn’t actually used to mean bad? Surely not, but yes. Apparently it wasn’t even a negative, not really. Back in the day if you were heard saying that a situation had gone ‘terribly’, your audience could well have asked, “Terribly what?”
You see, ‘terrible’ used to be a simple adjective, a qualifier, meaning very serious or severe; therefore ‘terrible pain’. ‘Terribly’, meant severely, or extremely, and get this, you could even use them with a positive connotation – ‘terrible fun’ or ‘terribly exciting.’
Can’t imagine today’s grotesquely overused adaptation of ‘terrible’ ever warranting a smile – today anything the least bit negative is considered terrible.
Reminds me of another manipulated word which used to mean, a difficult situation presenting two equally undesirable outcomes. This fine word is ‘dilemma’ and it has since been simplified to just mean, any difficult situation.
Now, I don’t mind admitting to initial confusion on this one because I had always thought that ‘quandary’ was the best word to describe a difficult situation, but at that same time I knew that ‘dilemma’ and ‘quandary’ were two quite dissimilar terms. Then they were saying that they were the same..? I didn’t know what was going on. Only thing for it, I gave up wondering. I guessed now there must have been two words for difficult situations, which I supposed related to the ever increasing frequency of the aforementioned.
Believe me, it was a terrible quandary.
Speaking of aggravated frustration, I am willing to wager that nobody even remembers a time when ‘aggravate’, similar to ‘terrible’, was simply a qualifier – something to use with another word in order to enhance the subject’s meaning. By original definition, ‘aggravate’ means to make worse; therefore, aggravated robbery – which is essentially a more severe, or terrible, robbery.
Oh and also, did you have any clue at all there was a time when the well known, rhetorical query, ‘you know’, actually required a response? Turns out that when people asked if you knew, they were actually asking you a question; you were actually supposed to answer. I know. Gosh, that must have been one heck of a world – so many questions, you know?
As earlier stated, I don’t know, and I wish people would stop asking me if I did.
I understand that this language of ours is constantly evolving. I understand furthermore that all it takes for something – for anything – to become embraced as an acceptable way of life, is for a vast section of the population to do it over an extended period.
In other words if enough idiots make a habit of acting as such, idiocy will soon become an accepted way of life.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by E Vlushon
Photography by Con. Tempree Dyptiate