Words in the Crosshairs

This evening on NPR, I heard a segment on Ralph Keyes’ contest to replace certain “foreignisms” in American English with homegrown words instead. There are only four words on the list suggested for retirement (schadenfreude, frission, simpatico, and mensch) but they present a true challenge in that there is not a simple candidate for exchange. The Chronicle of Higher Ed blog Lingua Franca commented that American English itself has a handful of colorful native terms with few direct counterparts and, anyway, that’s the way of languages, especially our notoriously “spongy” tongue. However one takes this task (i.e. seriously or not), it does suggest a useful practice might be to review one’s word choices for over-earnest use of faux (sorry) trim in the form of high-falutin’ sounding verbiage that don’t fool nobody.


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