The erosion of vocabulary

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To the Editor:

Today, as I left a doctors appointment, three teenagers crossed the road in front of me. In the space of twenty yards they used the f-word at least ten times. That troubled me – not because they were teenager girls and not because I was offended in any puritanical sense. I too occasionally use such words when I slip on the ice, fall in the river when fishing, or when the computer fails and I haven’t saved a document!

My concern is what this says about the erosion of vocabulary in the population. Communication is not enhanced by repeated use of expletives. Ambiguity is reduced by precision and selectiveness in one’s choice of words to describe a thing, feeling or an opinion. Clarity actually reduces stress.

There are broader implications. At a time when fake news, lies, distortion and spin dominate the media, the members of which are (ironically) responsible for trustworthy representation of facts, discussing issues articulately to promote understanding has never been more important.

As the next generation enters the private and public sector I for one hope that they realize that expressing their ideas is essential to progress. Sadly, given the current state of discourse south of the border there has never been a greater need to voice good ideas and salvage democracy.

I have faith in the intelligence of young people and am confident that they will see that monotonous repetition of words that some find offensive does not encourage people to pay attention to their ideas.

Michael Byrne

Creston, BC