Left-Brained Word Fetishism
I’ve seen some posts of people on Mastodon (and elsewhere over the years) sharing what I’m delighted to repeat hearing described as “left-brained word fetishism.” I see it as an attempt to be more correct than someone who may not use a word in the same way they do, or perhaps mispronounces a word they’ve only read. The perils are everywhere.
I used to do this. In unpacking it, I was trying to protect myself from the judgment of others, but it was way too easy to fall into the practice as a way of judging others myself.
Merriam-Webster’s historians/researchers often do a great job of researching that word you’re judging folks on. Chances are, people have been using it that way for hundreds of years, and it might even be older than the version you think is correct. After all, every word is made up at some point, and language is ever-evolving.
In an attempt to unlearn this habit (and unclench from the judgement/judged vicious circle), I wanted to share that I ask myself, do I know what they mean? Yes? Then they’ve accomplished their goal, and I should mind my own business. Meanings change. Usage changes. I am not the language police. I don’t get life points redeemable for anything in exchange. I might even just be less of a cranky old bat, too.