Monday, December 6, 2010

Word to the wise

With only 26 letters in the alphabet, it's amazing how many new words -- and new style guidelines -- keep appearing.
  • From comes polyfidelty (faithfulness within a group of sexual partners, particularly the other members of a polygamous relationship)...and municide (the economic or political death of a city)...and other interesting words, phrases, and abbreviations (like BIY, from Buy-it-Yourself, where you buy the materials that a contractor will use for a project). Also found on Twitter @wordspy.
  • From On Words and Upwards! comes airgonation (travel by hot-air balloon) and frescour (noun. coolness; adj. cool and crisp). On Twitter @onWords.
  • From AP Stylebook, "don't ask, don't tell" is as you see it -- all lower case, with comma and quotes. And with the new airport screening procedures, it's pat-down and full-body scanner. If, like me, you don't have a Stylebook Web subscription, just follow on Twitter @APStylebook.
Maybe these and similar sites appeal to me because I'm a writer. But for anyone who communicates anything to anybody at any time, it never hurts to brush up on language skills.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steroids: Bad drugs, good metaphor?

Steroids have been used -- abused, really -- to build muscle mass and improve athletic performance. By bodybuilders and weight lifters. By football and baseball players. And by both professional and wanna-be athletes.

For decades, steroids have ruined bodies, careers, and lives. You would think steroids is a topic best avoided. Even the word itself should be left alone. But it's not.

When describing an innovation -- the next hot new thing -- people can't resist describing it as being "on steroids."
That's only a small sample of all the news stories and other media mentions of things being "on steroids." AS IF anything on steroids could be a good thing.

Being "on steroids" is just plain bad, both literally (it's a harmful drug) and figuratively (it's a cliche).

As someone who lifts a few weights and who writes for a living, I pledge to never use steroids, either as a muscle enhancer or a metaphor.