Writers have a thing for words. That may be stating the obvious, but it is more complicated than saying carpenters have a thing for wood or geologists have a thing for rocks. A better comparison may be to say that artists have a thing for paint, more accurately for color. The combination of the right colors makes all the difference in the painting just as the use of the right words makes all the difference in the writing. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” If I tell an artist to paint the sky blue, it may be too general a request given the many shades of blue in the sky, but the artist knows it is not to be red or brown. But what if in my mind blue does not mean a color but an emotion? That may confuse things a bit for the artist.
Language changes, for better or for worse. Cultural influences, societal influences sometimes bend the connotation of a good word in a bad direction. Words can take on an emotional charge by connotation that they do not have by original definition. I call it culturally corrupted connotation. Here are three words I believe have suffered that fate. Read the rest of this entry »