Enriching our Vocabulary

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Culture, Politics

Over a year or so ago I was talking with a coworker who hails from Korea. I’m not sure if being from Korea is really relevant, but I mention it because of the different culture that he grew up with. I don’t recall how we got on the subject, but I was mentioning something about my internet connection and he started talking about how he had been running a server from his home line. Apparently, he was doing over 400 GB worth of traffic a month and because of that his cable company was getting on his back. Unfortunately the details of the conversation are a bit fuzzy at this point, but at one point he mentioned that [giving in?] wasn’t something he would do. It would be an insult to his Pride.

I can hardly remember anything about that conversation except that one word. And when he used it I was pretty floored. The only time I really ever hear that word is as part of an empty colloquialism, “We take pride in our work” or variations thereof. Maybe it’s my own assigning of importance, but when I heard him use the term it was not meant as a meaningless invocation but rather as something that is part of his true self. And, hearing that, I thought upon how little it would ever come to me to use the word Pride. My own vocabulary seems to suffer so much from this modern plague of euphemism and political correctness. When I heard this man use this word it felt as if my eyes were peering into a world stripped of the veils that lesser words would have raised. “Esteem,” “Self-Worth,” these seem so empty and flaccid, words which convey the meaning but divert all of its underlying strength.

Recently I had another similar experience. This article from Architecture and Morality looks at usage of the word justice — Justice in itself is a powerful word, but one which is frequently misused. Relievedebtor proposes an alternative word, one which is far more fitting, capturing the heart of the matter better than Justice can do. So much seems lost already, the word he speaks of would never have occurred to me.

Related but not directly connected, Eternity Road talks about Justice here.

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