the hyphens that define my life

Word Choices – 200th Post November 10, 2014

Guilty.  I am guilty of poor word choices.  Newsflash, we all choose our words poorly at some point. I find myself caught in this trap more often than not, mainly because it is easier to drop a curse word than to think about some G-rated interjection. Words are powerful, they reflect who you are, your opinions and your intentions.

My children are taught to choose their words wisely, if not, I’m on their case.  When I fail to choose wisely, they gang up against me like a pack of wild hyenas in attack formation. I am outnumbered.  I know it.  They know it.  They watch me, circling, laughing, ready to pounce at my slightest error. To their great pleasure, I make poor word choices.  We all have our moments.

My thirteen year old has picked up a habit this school year that in true teenager-parent fashion, drives me mad.  His response to near everything from eating pizza, to checking the fit of clothing or shoes, to watching something on TV is “it’s not bad”.  “It’s not bad” are three words that have caught me off guard as a hidden buzzer that delivers an electric shock to my brain. AGH!

It’s not bad.  What does that mean?  Is it good or is it bad?  Not bad, in a double negative sense, means good.  He claims he did not say it was good.  Then what dear child are you saying?  Formulate an opinion! This is where my  Wonder Mom powers are activated (much to his chagrin) and the lesson begins on negative statements and double negatives take over.

The lesson is simple, any time you use a negative word in as sentence, your statement, is negative. Period.  Think about it.  Think about your statements. Yikes. Negative words are no, not, nothing, none, nowhere, neither, no one, nobody, scarcely, barely, hardly.

Two negatives  Not + Bad, in a double negative, which result in a positive.  Though double negatives were popular with Shakespeare, double negatives are poor grammar. Period. Not up for discussion.  Double negatives are bad, negative statement intended.

Poor grammar in my house? Negativity out of my teenager’s mouth?  What are they teaching at school?

The heinous error of negative statements happens everywhere, daily.  I receive work emails that state:  “Please don’t hesitate to call”.  Consider writing “Please call”. I just attended a school Veteran’s Day assembly where a child quoted “I can’t say thank you enough”.  How about “Thank you so much”? My hair salon “just put you down” for an appointment.  Try “You are scheduled…”.

Word choices. We all speak negatively. It is as easy to speak negatively as easy as it is to drop an F-bomb.  It is easy to speak positively, we all need to develop the habit (with some of us more years of unravelling old habits than others). Let’s all try to choose our words wisely and positively to send the right message to each other.

My husband chimes in at this point.  “Your mother is not incorrect, though I’ll never admit she is right”.

So much time, so little to do.  Wait a minute.  Strike that.  Reverse it. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, 1971

Choose your words well and do what you say.