Citizen Wausau

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Words

by on September 5th, 2008

Lately, I find myself grasping for meaning. What does this or that word really mean now? I mean, in today’s parlance, what do we mean, deep down, when we use certain loaded or supercharged words — words that might have meant something different a century ago, decades ago, seven years ago? Words twist and spin and reverse direction, taking on new identities and powers. Like, at what precise point in our history was “cheap” dropped in favor of “inexpensive”? Cheap used to be a good thing. Words.

1. On the self-image front, in your opinion, what is a liberal and what is a conservative? Now, careful here. I don’t care about tax-and-spend versus small government … that’s politics. I’m talking about just plain old people and how they see themselves. You. Your friends. People you know. When someone says “I’m a conservative” or “I’m a liberal,” what are they saying? What comes with each package? Were the definitions the same in say, 1900?

2. On the civic involvement front, what is an activist and what is a supporter? Tell me if you think there’s a difference in the sense that the terms are used in news reports and speeches.

3. On the musical front, what is classic rock? When did it start? When did it end? Is it the same as “old school”?

4. In the same vein, what is classical music? Specifically. Says who? Does Frank Zappa qualify?

5. Do you carry a “cell” or a “mobile”? Which is better? Do they still make “cellular” phones?

6. I hear a lot about the “environment” these days, but nobody seems to say “ecology” anymore. What happened?

7. What or who is “emo”? A Muppet?

8. Do you invite someone over for “drinks” or “libations”?

9. I’ve heard there’s an “American culture” … what is it?  I sure don’t know.

10. What words can you think of that are sort of weird when you think about them?

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