Let’s cut back on the F-word

| March 13, 2014

There is music and abundance in the English language. Leicester Warburton wonders why so many people then are fixated on one limited adjective.

I understand that in the movie that is currently big at the box-office, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, there are over 400 uses of the notorious f-word (or is that naughtorious?). In my book that’s absurdly and lazily excessive. I’ll give just one use a pass if Leonardo di Caprio clouts his thumb with a hammer.

But I’m not talking about what I suppose is now a kind of scatalogically generic term for something wonderful. No. I’m discussing the boring and often absurd overuse of the fanciful adjective “fantastic”. Maybe there are people who would like to speak a language more like the cryptic communications in a text message from a mobile phone. But, let’s face it. It could become a kind of guttural shorthand no one could follow.

English is such a beautiful language with such diversity and adorned with contributions from a number of languages from countries. Yet even with this international spicing it is surprisingly concise and economical. I remember when I had a Mozart symphony on an LP (remember them?), there was a very impressive example of that very fact. The producers had published the programme notes in four popular languages in side-by-side columns on the back cover to help international sales. And guess what! The notes column in English was thirty per cent shorter than any of the others. As I recall, for the record, French was second, just pipping Italian, with German clearly longest.

But brevity is not really my point. It’s the beauty of English, from the formality of Chaucer to the cadence and wit of Shakespeare and now the excitement of creating new words to adequately interpret the evolution of our language.

There’s variety to spare, to colour, to shade what we are saying. So why be fixated on one literally-limited adjective – fantastic? Why not choose from wonderful, gorgeous, marvellous, thrilling, exciting, compelling, delicious, and a dozen others, almost all of them more appropriate?

How absurd to describe everything from a bowel movement to an act of brutality as “fantastic”! Do people fantasise about such things? Most improbable, if I may say so.

There’s music in our language to be played and enjoyed. Colour to be considered and admired. Humour and sadness to be conveyed when appropriate. Even if one has to reach into the mental file of vocabulary to be more convincing or entertaining, isn’t it worth the more enjoyment it can bring in day-to-day communication?

Which brings me back to the over-use of the profane f-word I mentioned in the beginning. Even if you are not offended, it is so boring and dreary.

And regressively lazy.

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Leicester Warburton

Leicester Warburton is a former journalist, advertising executive and promotions manager for the Murdoch newspapers.

0 Comments

  1. fooker

    May 2, 2014 at 12:46 am

    You’re joking right?

    Here's an edifying video for consideration youtube.com/watch?v=26UA578yQ5g.

    • daralin

      April 12, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Well said!

      Well said!