The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles
by Jack Caldwell
What Ever Happened to Darling?
Good day, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. Being a writer carries certain responsibilities, particularly to one’s readers. A good author never should bore their readers. Plots should make sense, all plot holes should be filled, and the reader should be left wanting more. And since the English language has a huge number of adjectives, a writer should take advantage of them and use as many different ones as practical.
That being said, I have noticed in my nearly fifty-five years a disturbing decrease in the usage of certain words. These are perfectly fine words but have fallen out of favor in this fax-email-text society Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have created for us.
A few examples:
Darling – A dearly beloved person (n); dearly beloved (adj). One of my favorite terms of endearment (just ask my wife). The word just rolls off the tongue and needs no further adjective to convoy its deep, particular meaning. One can only have one “darling.” Beloved and dearest are similar words.
It’s hardly used at all today, if Hollywood is any indication. Now’s it’s baby, babe, honey, and hey you.
Scoundrel – A villain; a rogue (n). Sure, there are many words for evil-doers, but none covey the unique qualities of scoundrel. It is nearly a term of endearment! One can be a scoundrel and still be liked. Jane Austen’s George Wickham is a wonderful example of a scoundrel; John Willoughby is not (he left a girl pregnant, after all).
In real life, politicians have taken up the role of scoundrel. Two examples are former governors Edwin Edwards of Louisiana and Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, both jailed for corruption yet maintain a certain number of supporters who admit their hero’s faults.
Trade school – A secondary school that offers instruction in skilled trades; a vocational school (n). The problem with American English is that we make our language too complicated. The British have the Foreign Office, we have the State Department. They have the Department of Work and Pensions, we have the Labor Department. I like the Brits’ way of saying things better.
Here was a term that meant exactly what it said. People went to trade school to learn a trade and procure employment. But the word is in danger of becoming extinct. First it was changed to vocational school, and then later to community college.
This might be more “inclusive” for such non-factory jobs as nursing or computer science. In my opinion, these are still trades. People go to these institutions for specific courses that will help them land jobs in their chosen fields. This does not happen in the university system, except for medical and law school. There, students work on a major field of study, but their degree—be it an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s—does not guarantee employment in any job.
And don’t get me started on what’s taught—and NOT taught—in our education departments!
Beguile – 1. To charm; fascinate; 2. To delude; influence by slyness (v). Another wonderful word. One can be beguiled, and yet enjoy the deceit. Hoodwink and cheat are just too harsh.
My friends, let us today vow to save the English language. Pick up a thesaurus and use it. Sprinkle in a few words like crestfallen, resplendent, and sedan into your conversation. We will be a better people because of it.
Remember—it takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.
So what favorite words of yours have fallen out of favor? Let us together enumerate them!