Defending my language

          Many, many years ago, when I was young and extremely foolish, I loved it when some really “cool” person in his or her 7 1/2 minute of fame decided to repurpose some word or phrase (like “cool” or “daddy” or briefly “aesthetic”) just to prove how in – the – moment they were. I even held back a right cross the first time some slick car salesman promised to “put me into” this car or that one. But since I entered adulthood, albeit belatedly, I find this to be less  a statement of avant garde mastery and more proof of stupidity.
          I can’t really buy the first Hollywood-type who used the word “issue” when he or she meant “problem” had any clue that they are different words. An issue is a bone of contention, or a subject for discussion or debate. A problem is, well, a problem: Only an idiot would call a broken leg “a medical issue”. Who is going to argue that the leg might not need attention? It’s a PROBLEM and it needs to be fixed. Deciding which doctor or medical facility to use might well be an issue: I like Dr. X and you like Dr. Y. But the leg is NOT an issue. And please, if you value sanity, don’t let anyone get away with saying in a superior way “he/she “has issues”. That statement surrenders the concept that that word ever had an actual meaning; that adding an issue to an agenda ever meant you were adding a subject for discussion to the planned meeting, not necessarily throwing a few more problems into the mix.
          The current gratingly annoying misuse is the word “iconic”, although not as commonly used as yet, it   still rankles. Until recently one rarely heard “iconic” used unless in some scholarly or informative context. Then I vaguely remember hearing it on a national news broadcast referring to the “iconic” photograph of the American sailor kissing a girl on the streets of New York on either VE Day, or VJ Day. The photo was run nationally in the newspapers, and became a legitimately iconic symbol of the joy people felt at the end of WWII. But as they will, local newscasters heard it and suddenly any recognizable building, geographic feature, local sight  or even person of note is dubbed “iconic”. Yet the word means a thing “is like an Icon”, referencing the fact that early artists created Icons of specific religious persons and scenes which are instantly recognizable anywhere in the world, and have specific meaning. I somehow doubt that local libraries or elected officials are universally recognized and loved the world over.
          The language has real meaning to me, and I assume to most people. It would be nice to see someone step in and snip this kind of ignorant abuse in the bud when it first happens, instead of taking the chance that it will become another daily irritant.

 

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