Thesauri, an existential threat
THE EDITOR, Madam:
Here’s an informative note from an old, tired, word-warrior. It’s informative and accurate.
You read words; you write words in whatever fashion is available. You use words to communicate and if you’re clever enough to know their commonly-agreed-to meanings, you often come close to using them correctly or (in the case of the real world, rather than the classroom) effectively. It’s just something most people never think about these days, no doubt, like a lot of other important things.
Committing oneself to writing and expressing in an acceptably recognisable fashion is something very few of us ever do or even try to do seriously. I’ll admit, poor fools like me have been trying to do so for most of their formally educated lives and have struggled with words that attempt to convey all manner of meanings. For us, today’s literate reality is more a land of Babel, (not the language tutor, but in the Bible), than one of Sanity.
The word that annoys me most today is “existential.”
People seem to think it’s a better word than “present, existing, current,” or even “extant” … all of which are more than appropriate in most settings as where “existential” is being used at all. To my way of thinking, pardon my poor education, “existential” has to do with philosophy; it’s not merely a more colourful, nor more informative, adjective, but then we do have to find a use for our Thesauri, don’t we?