Confluence Chronicles"Where City & Country Meet 5-11
Why do the definitions of our words change, and who is responsible? I am not referring to “politically correct” words, as they are entirely another matter. But I do wonder when a pickup became a truck. When I use the word “truck,” I mean an 18-wheeler or at least a 2-ton truck. Most of the people around here said pickup, which was a shortened form of pickup truck, but somehow the new, shortened version became truck. That is what they are called in commercials. Why is it important to advertisers and consumers to call them trucks? The only thing I can figure out is that the word “truck” sounds so much more powerful than pickup. But is that the reason?One of the biggest puzzles to me is the phrase “gone missing.” What did we used to say? Disappeared. Somehow, “showed up missing” doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t think that was it. How about disappeared? Or is that too simple? A missing person may be lost, but when someone dies, a common expression is, “We lost her.” That may be why we don’t say a person is lost, as that implies death. But “gone missing”? Is that old English, new English or poor English?Whatever happened to the phrase, “You’re welcome?” The response to “thank you” these days is usually, “Not a problem.” It may come from the Spanish or French, in which the appropriate response to “thank you” is (translated), “It was nothing,” as in, it was no big deal or that it was not a problem. But I don’t think that many young Americans speak enough Spanish or French to even get the connection. Of course, it’s better than no response at all or a grunt. I am just curious how it got started and why it continues to grow in popularity.With political campaigning constantly making as a dull roar, I want so much to ask why incumbents call themselves, “civil servants.” It sounds so much like they want to be submissive to the voters and to play nice. In actuality, the phrase “civil servant” is widely misused. It literally refers to a member of the civil service, and by definition, that excludes elected politicians. (See the Oxford Dictionary.) We won’t even touch on whether or not politicians are civil.Although it is perhaps not spoken so frequently now, the phrase “working woman” has always made me laugh. It is supposed to mean a woman who works outside the home and collects a paycheck. But the adage, “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done,” is a better way to put it. Put that alongside, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” It doesn’t matter if it’s outside the home for pay or as a volunteer, or in the home, where raising children and being the superintendent of the domestic duties is so vital — all women are working women. And men, even the work-at-home dads, farmers and ranchers included, are treasures.Peggy Sanders writes at her family ranch in southwestern South Dakota. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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