Changing words by Susan Grimsdell

I know language changes and there’s no going back once words have either been lost or their meaning changed, but, in a no doubt forlorn bid to change things back to how they were, I want to focus attention on two changes that really bother me.

Dying words

First of all, I mourn the loss of a once-common word – “died”.  People don’t die any more.  They “pass away”.  They “pass”.   I just don’t understand where they’re supposed to have passed to, especially in New Zealand where only a small minority of the population declares itself to be religious.  Science tells us that when our bodies die, which they all surely do, they decay and “dust to dust” is the phrase that applies.  I know from being unconscious more than once in my life for extended periods of time, that when my brain is knocked out, there’s just no me there any more.  I don’t pass to anywhere.  Please people – let’s die from now on!

Masculine and feminine

The other word that distresses me is “guys”.  I am not a guy.  I’m a woman.  Guy means male, and the way to realise that is for a man to tell his mate that he dated a really nice guy last night.  That’s perfectly fine if he’s gay, but if he isn’t, no way in the world would he use the word guy because it means male!

Children are now addressed as “guys”, by everyone.  You don’t hear preschool teachers saying, “Hey kids, pay attention”.  Not any more.  It’s “Hey guys…”  Where does that leave the girls?  Out on a limb somewhere.  They are supposed to be boys, that’s the answer.

Fighting a losing battle

As I said, I know this is a forlorn plea and I’m not going to win this one.  But at least I’ve tried!  Hey all you guys reading this – doesn’t that count?

5 Comments on “Changing words by Susan Grimsdell

  1. I have instructed my kids to say I have ‘died’ and to never say ‘passed away’ about my dying. I’ll haunt them if they did.

    • So glad to hear that, Ann. I’ve written it in my memorandum of wishes to go with my will – no one, absolutely no one is to use the word passed in any form!

  2. Hi Hoffar – oh dear, you seem to be right! Even my 1993 edition of Chambers includes it in the official definition. OK, I will gracefully abandon that fight.

  3. Another Americanism that really niggles me is “hi” instead of hello. Oh yes, and “it sucks.” Grrr.

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