Learning the meaning of words

If it looks like a duck ... (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

It seems I may have to start each column with addressing questions from my last one. Last week I said I had called people names in the past, specifically my children. Perfect parents don’t have to go down this rabbit hole. To set the record straight, I’m not a fan of calling people “swear word” names. I’ve used names that, to me, perfectly described my children’s lack of motivation. I’m not perfect. Though I’ve only name-called a few times over a course of quite a few years, it doesn’t make it right. I’ve also apologized. I’m supposed to set the example.

In the past, I’ve used the term “gypped” not realizing it was a shortened version of gypsy and an insult to Romani people. I didn’t realize that I was targeting a group of people. I’ve referred to Inuit as Eskimos without realizing the history of the name. I’m a work in progress. Once I understand a word has a derogatory connotation, I don’t use it. So for the person who asked, to the best of my memory I’ve never deliberately called anyone a racial slur. Why would I when I understand the meaning is hurtful? Good grief.

I’ve never had an issue with someone pointing out something I say is incorrect. I’d rather know the right word than continually use the wrong one. I’ve explained this to my children when I hear them singing the wrong song lyric. We’ve all done that. We’ll be singing at the top of our lungs and reach a section where we all are singing different words. We look at each other and immediately start researching the correct lyrics. Not one of us has an issue of being wrong and learning the correct song. In my family, I’ve never heard either child insist their version is right and the songwriter is wrong. The reason I bring it up is because people have little issue with wanting to sing the correct words to a song.

The same should apply to spoken words, right? Once someone points out the correct definition, we should stop using derogatory words. It is certainly within your right to question, research, and discover the person is correct. Just like with song lyrics, you don’t have to take them at their word (see what I did there) but the correct answer is readily available. Dictionaries are still a great resource for understanding the etymology of words.

I hope we all will continue to learn and grow. There are so many new words to learn, why waste our time on the hateful ones.


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