By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily
As National Public Radio’s Sam Sanders noted, “Words that begin with a very specific meaning, used by a very specific group of people, over time become shorthand for our politics, and eventually move from shorthand to linguistic weapon.”
These linguistic weapons are fired daily, and I’ve had a few shot at me. Fortunately for me, I’m able to deflect the shots since my lexicon is more archaic than that used by the word-weapon warriors with new verbal arsenals. What I mean is that the warspeak falls on deaf ears, since I tend to wield words with their original meanings (I’m old school). Let me provide a few examples.
Snowflake: A snowflake is that delicate work of symmetry found in nature of which no two are identical.
Hit me with the “Ok boomer” and I’ll show scorn. Not only do you not know in what generation I was birthed, but “ok Boomer” were the words called out to the huge Saint Bernard dog named Boomer who liked to put me up a tree as a child, much to the pleasure of my childhood friends who lived with said Boomer.
Triggered: Oh, I’ve got triggers; the one I use most is attached to a Henry rifle. #TrueThat.
Woke, as in past tense of wake. I was starting to get used to the new informal use of the word as an alert to societal injustice, but when that finally happened, I listened to Sam Sanders and found out that version was dead.
PC: personal computer. Yup, my language is that old. And BLM is an acronym for a land management agency. And all those AI headlines initially confused me, but then I realized they weren’t referring to artificial insemination, which is what AI means for ag folks.
Safe spaces: Places like my kitchen table, where someone in need is welcome to come in and find safety and nourishment. I hope your kitchen table serves the same purpose.
Witch hunt: you know, like that thing that happened in New England when people were accused of practicing witchcraft and were then executed.
Rabid: A current favored adjective of lazy linguists who would reject such casual diction if they had ever dealt with a living being afflicted with the fatal viral disease of rabies.
Whistleblower: I know a lot of whistleblowers. Do yourself a favor and attend a sheepdog trial and you’ll get to know them as well. Whistleblowers are good people.
Perfect means as good as it could possibly be in this world. For an example of perfect, see actual snowflake.
Troll: One who lurks in darkness and is eventually knocked down while harassing a large billy goat. Hey troll, I’m your goat.
Anonymous: Like trolls, generally an unidentified person, and often one making statements or claims for which they are unwilling to have their name associated. Bottom line: Never me.
Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.