Language evolves; it’s a living entity.
As example, in the 1700s, what was a “butt-plate?”
If you thought it to be the 18th century version of shape wear or something on which you placed your “pratts” (buttocks), you’d be completely wrong. Rather, it was the metal plate at the “butt end” of a musket, used to protect the wood and possibly make the butt a better weapon unto itself.
Moving into the late 1800s, “seven miles behind the moon,” had nothing to do with astronomy. Rather, it was a way of saying someone was “crazy,” or “out there.”
We needn’t look too far into the past to see this evolution.
In our lifetimes alone, the use of words has drastically changed. I’m probably the only person on the planet who still uses the term “righteously bitchen.” Yet when I was a teen, that manifestation was about as common as platform shoes and aviator glasses. Now it’s heard as often as we see pet rocks.
This year, the latest additions to Webster’s dictionary included “crowdfunding,” “selfie,” and “fracking;” three terms that would have made its users seem seven miles behind the moon in the very recent past.
The manner in which language is delivered has evolved too; from Paleolithic cave drawings through hieroglyphics to emoji. The word “emoji,” until recently an unknown word itself, is derived from combining the Japanese words for picture (e-) and for character (moji). If you don’t know what “emoji” is, consider that further proof that language evolves. (It’s those smiley face — and other — “emoticons” that one inserts in emails and other written correspondence.) The Noun Project is attempting to create the first ever fully visual dictionary with an icon for every single object and concept.
Language marches on.
What doesn’t change is the power vested in it and how its use of nouns, adjectives, and verbs can have significant impact on us, as well as the quality of our relationships.
Consider this scenario:
While having a disagreement, in trying to explain your frustration, you could say, “You’re being a jerk!” Or opt for the more productive, “I don’t like the way you’re speaking to me!” Whereby neither might generate the results you want, your odds are greatly increased in achieving a more peaceful resolution by focusing on the action — the verb “speaking” — rather than the person — the noun “jerk.” Concentrating on the verb allows the recipient of the message to change his behavior, where focusing on the person will most likely evoke the less-than-intelligent retort, “I’m not being a jerk. You are!”
Focusing on actions rather than labels also works well with our internal self-talk. I can say, “I am a fat person,” or “I eat too much.” Although one might be the result of the other, the feelings provoked by each statement generate different results. I can change my actions immediately; possibly empowering me to at least consider it. Yet, I cannot change who I am as quickly. This could generate in me a feeling of hopelessness and stagnation. I mean, if it’s not going to make a difference, why bother?
The lesson is clear; if you want darb results (very good; excellent; superlative; early 1900s), focus on actions, not labels.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com Get his free ebook of motivational quotations and one year of his highly-popular Monday Motivational Memos at no charge by visiting his website. He is also available for coaching and speaking.