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The Word Worshipper
by Michael Giardina

You know, I don't like words very much. They are ridiculously confusing. I mean, consider the word 'cleave' for example. This word has two delightfully frustrating definitions. It either means to split something by cutting it or to adhere firmly together. Quick, what's the opposite of 'cleave?' It's 'cleave,' of course! I wonder what that means for the word cleavage.

Ego is also a great word to use when you'e feeling indecisive. Ego is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as both 'an exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit' and 'appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem.' Doesn't defining conceit as self-esteem seem a little inhumane?

Sometimes I think people who introduce new words into our language are merely trying to mess with us. Doctors and sociologists are notorious for their overzealous word construction. That's right, I've got a real beef to pick with the doctor who thought it cute to coin the word, 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.' If you weren't aware, that means you've got volcanic junk in your lungs.

Someday I should just write a column entirely out of unused words. Perhaps, I'll do that next week when I am running by the lillypilly and pussy willow branches with such legerity that my perspicacious mind has enough energy to complete such a complicated task. Yikes.

As you can see, words are just bound to cause confusion. You should have seen the look on my face when my friend sent me an e-mail asking how the 'whether' is in Davis. I was confused, of course, because whether means 'castrated bull.' I knew my friend was kinky, but not that kinky.

Amusingly enough, there are some words that seem to make complete sense. For example, 'antediluvian' means something that was made a long time ago. So, I guess you could say that 'antediluvian' is, well, antediluvian. That's pretty convenient. 'Desuetude,' another word that is never used, also conveniently means 'unused'.

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that 'homely' means both unattractive and, according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, 'being something familiar with which one is at home?' I don't know about you, but I think I'd feel much more at home in the presence of a few porn stars instead of a three-hundred-kilogram, bucktoothed female. But hey, that's just me.

Now words like 'cockshut' must be critically analyzed. Basically, the word means nightfall. The thing is, shouldn't we define nightfall as 'zipperopen' or 'cockout?' If college students must face cockshut every night, they're clearly going to be sad, unhappy college students.

Are you a real linguistics dork (dork means penis, by the way) like me? If so, you probably know the definition of eroteme. So, what's it mean? If you're drawing a blank, then you're already on the right track. This is the word for the question mark!

Don't worry, though. English is not the only language that has dreadfully confusing words. For example, the Chinese word for mother is 'Ma.' Fair enough. Why, then, is the word for horse--give or take a shift in tone--also 'Ma'? Just imagine trying to impress your girlfriend's mother with your recently acquired grasp of Chinese, only to tell her that she's a very nice horse.

Similarly, the Chinese word for 'grandmother' is 'Nai Nai.' Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if you mess up your intonation and say, 'Nai Nai,' you're going to be complimenting your grandmother's curvaceous breasts. That's right; the words are nearly identical to the Caucasian ear, but I'm sure her grandmother will be flattered.

There you have it: communication at its finest. As you can see, you'll always want to keep a dictionary by your side. That way you won't buy anything frangible, won't waste your time with flapdoodle, and you'll know how to properly worship the Davis krine.



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