Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Expletives

People (self included) use too many expletives today. I am not referring to bad language alone, but mainly to the use of filler language. Filler language consists of words that do not add any meaning to a sentence. For example:

Who left this stupid light on?

Why do we need such words to express ourselves? Lights are neither stupid nor intelligent.

The other use of expletives, of which I am guilty, is to express emotions through phrases such as the following:

Oh, brother!
Good grief!
My word!
Blast! ...and so on.

These phrases in and of themselves do not express any emotion, but rather the tone of voice with which we say them clues the listener in to our present mood. So why, other than habit, do we use these particular words and phrases?

I believe it is because we are not a thinking people. I believe we speak without taking the time to carefully choose and guard our words. I also believe it is because we are not well read; we, instead, watch mindless drivel on TV, resulting in our mimicking the language of said verbal twaddle.

I am culpable in the use of this blather, but I would like to change this. Perhaps, I should carry a thesauraus with me??? (visualize Mrs. Calla Lilly with a sly grin) Perhaps, the real answer is that I need to be more prayerful in regards to my speech. Posted by Picasa

3 comments:

Amanda said...

I guess I have to differ with you on your definition of expletives. The ones that you listed ("Oh bother!" and the like), I would define as exclamations. I certainly understand your arguement that we use too much "filler", but sometimes nothing but an exclamation will do. When I stub my toe, my gut reaction is to shout "blast!" I don't feel that this is displeasing to the Lord. I guess I'm left wondering what you would like yourself to say in such a situation?

Calla Lilly said...

According to the American Heritage Dictionary:
ex·ple·tive (kspl-tv) KEY

NOUN:

An exclamation or oath, especially one that is profane, vulgar, or obscene.

A word or phrase that does not contribute any meaning but is added only to fill out a sentence or a metrical line.
Linguistics A word or other grammatical element that has no meaning but is needed to fill a syntactic position, such as the words it and there in the sentences It's raining and There are many books on the table.

The problem with "blast" is what it really means. My daughter uses this word frequently, and the only suitable meaning I can come up for the word is not too pretty. If I stub my toe, why can I not simply say, "ow!" If I say "blast", what am I "blasting"? Many will say I am carrying things too far. I am not asking any one to give up any expletives themselves; I am simply thinking out loud, so to speak - er, uh - write. :)

Mrs Blythe said...

Lol. I'm guilty of using the expression "Man-Alive!". I heard my little 4 year old using it the other day. Shame.