In Defense of Letters

Poor, much maligned, “F.” So many people turned to my post yesterday thinking that it would about a much different “F” kind of day, only to find fun, fairies, and frolicking.

What did F ever do to deserve such a reputation? Is it because the lowest letter grade we can get is an F? or because, by simply attaching “-word” to follow a letter that letter becomes politicized at the very least and often turns into something negative? Our poor letters are taking a trampling in recent times.

  • The F-word or the F-bomb: Self-explanatory, but has definitely led to the corruption of poor innocent F
  • The L-word: a fabulous show, a shocking revelation, a word people are afraid to say to one another (love, silly–not lesbian). Neither of those words (love or lesbian) should be that terrifying or sinister, but . . .
  • The N-word: Now, granted, I don’t think this word should or needs to be said out loud, but I shared in a serious post in the past about how complex that word really is, because of its historical context as well as the way it is used at present.
  • Recently T-words and H-words have been trampled upon completely. I see you all scratching your head and thinking, what is she talking about? But, you have to admit that TRUTH has become twisted and HONESTY  has entered the realm of fantasy.
  • A poor little M-word has become a political hot-potato. As has an R-word, especially for women and G-words. (Translation: Marriage, Rights, and Gays)
  • The most recent attack on letters has, of course, been made on PBS, Oh, the humanity! (Or would that be Muppetity!)

I’m begging you people, stand up for the rights of letters to be well-rounded and represent all of their possible meanings rather than be defined by only one facet of their personalities. Let them embrace their multiple personalities and stand for the true power and variety of language.

Let F Stand for Freedom!

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Frayn
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 10:13:29

    Muppetity is my new favorite word! Love that. And though I was guilty of thinking yesterday’s post was about THE F-word, i don’t think of that word as negative, necessarily. It’s strategic use can gain great results after all. 🙂


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Oct 14, 2012 @ 10:29:21

      That is very true. I’ve used it myself on many an occasion! 😀 I just think its really funny that so many people immediately jumped to that assumption. I hadn’t thought of it myself, but I understand the instinct. 😀


  2. Lorinda J. Taylor
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 11:23:11

    I do like this post! And a comment on the G-word. I hope people know that “gay” did not always mean homosexual. See the excellent article in Wikipedia on the origin of the word and of its current use. Originally it simply meant carefree and happy, or bright and showy. It didn’t come into its current usage until the middle of the 20th century.
    I remember when my mother first learned about this use. She said, “What a shame to ruin a really nice word.” She talked about how my young belle of a grandmother in the 1890s would go to dances and later would reminisce about how they had a “gay old time.” They simply meant they had a really nice, lively, jolly time. (This is no condemnation of my gay friends, btw. It just illustrates how connotations change, and it IS a bit of a shame that the original, uncontroversial meaning had to be swallowed up.)
    This is an example of how words’ meanings shift over time. Positive words often develop negative connotations, and vice versa. “Bad” words or forbidden words become so familiar that they lose their punch and we have to find new “bad” words to replace them.
    “God” is another example. I was brought up with the idea that you didn’t take the name of God in vain. It was shocking if you went around saying “Oh, my god.” Now everybody does that – even little kids with the “OMG,” and even “good Christians” do it. It means nothing – it’s just something to say. The same thing will happen with the “bad” F-word, I’m sure. And the “bad” S-word. It seems to me that both of those degradations of effect are already happening, in fact, considering the amount of usage of the F-word that I see on Twitter.


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Oct 14, 2012 @ 14:33:29

      Lorinda, I love the story of your mother. I did, of course, know that gay didn’t always have the same meaning. Still, to this day, if I am writing about G-d in the sense of my childhood, I write it like I just did G-d, although god comes up in other ways more randomly. I should have included that word in my post today. Words are so fascinating, aren’t they?


      • Lorinda J. Taylor
        Oct 14, 2012 @ 16:24:14

        You know, when I talked about the use of the word God, I had forgotten you were Jewish, even though we discussed it the other day! (I’m following too many interesting bloggers!) And yes, of course, when I had my spurt of Jewish studies, I encountered that G-d thing. You never try to pronounce the Tetragrammaton, mostly because nobody knows how it was correctly pronounced, since in those early times there were no vowel signs in Hebrew. You can say Adonai, but even that is frowned upon. The best substitution is to say HaShem, “The Name.”
        That section of my impossible WIP, “The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars,” that deals with what happened to Judaism in the 28th century, will probably also have to be cut out of the final novel, if it’s ever finished, because it’s completely off the main plotline. But it includes a really good subplot that I hate to lose. Maybe I could extract it and publish it as a novella.


  3. nrhatch
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 11:35:39

    Have you read Ella Minnow Pea (L~M~N~O~P)? Told entirely through letters from one citizen to another, using an increasingly limited alphabet, it says so much about our need to communicate freely . . .


  4. Kathryn McCullough
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 14:41:40

    Fun post, Lisa! I think you should do a series–one post on each letter of the alphabet. I totaly LOVED your F post, my FRIEND!


    • Lisa Wields Words
      Oct 14, 2012 @ 14:45:57

      I failed the alphabet challenge last time I tried, but who knows, maybe this will be a recurring series. I need to be inspired by a letter, though. 🙂


  5. Julia Kovach
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 17:36:12

    Fun and smart! Love your writing, Lis! Nicely done! xoJulia


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