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20 July 2005 at 10:16

dictionary fascism

I have never understood people who insist that you use an approved version of their name. In my life I have been called rob, bob, robbie, rab, rabbie, robert, robsy - at school I was rubber, johnnie, and finally rubberjohnnie - and as far as I'm concerned the whole issue is in the public domain. People can choose any variant they like.

And even if they use a nickname I don't like, that's their choice, and I'm sure we can both live with the consequences.

I once knew a Susan who would seethe if anyone called her Sue or Suzy. I would understand her objection if she was being called Crepe Suzette or Sewage or something, but to be so fanatical about your own name comes across as rigid and nazissistic.



Much more serious than fascism around one's own name, is the linguistic equivalent of invading Poland. I'm talking about people whose aim is actually to take over all of the dictionary and exterminate undesirable words. For example, I heard someone recently disapproving of the word "instruct" because "it's too prescriptive".

I have an acquaintance, a woman who, several decades ago, gave birth to a child and arranged to have it adopted. Here's a conversation I had with her:

ME: Where I work, we've decided to adopt a new policy of ..

HER: Stop right there. I don't like that word.

ME: What, you mean "policy"?

HER: No, the other one.

ME: "Adopt?"

HER: Now you've said it again! I don't like people using that word.

Now, I don't doubt for a minute that the early separation of mother and child can be emotionally traumatic for both parties, but I'm not sure the best solution is to demand everyone takes the scissors to their vocabulary.

Blogger sugar high said...

I agree. I came across this one guy's site - very opinionated person. [Click] I hate when people look at you funny for saying a word you like. [for example: ginormous]  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Sugar high sounds even smarter than you, Adolf. I've asked her to read one of my books. If she wants to be my agent in America, do you think I should offer half n' half till I make five or ten million? Tough decision! Hotboy  

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Blogger hotboy said...

By the way, if anyone wants to adopt me, I'm very low maintenance considering all the addictions I've got.  

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Blogger mireille said...

dear robmcj ... thanks for visiting my blog ... and noticing I could spell. xoxo  

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Blogger Heather said...

I must admit that I am somewhat facist about the use of the word "cult" - but thats because I see it with as much bigotry as (pick your own racist slur)

Adopt though...I don't adopt her point of view. I suppose she hates the phrase "pregnant pause" too..  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Heather. I'll ask her.  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Sugar High. I checked that guy's site. Yes, his personal feelings about women are showing, which kind of spoils his message, I think.  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Tell yon lassie tae get ma book read an' then she can make 10 percent of the fortune I'm going to make! Hotboy  

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Blogger Paulius said...

I think people have the right to be called anything they like...but not to the stage of throwing a hissy fit if someone uses a variant of their name.

As for the 'I don't like that word'...what the hell?

I'd have apologised profusely, and when htey lowered their guard...BAM! The 'ole fork in the eye!  

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