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Wilson: Loved that column on words

After reading Andrea Chacos’s delightful guest commentary, “Are We Doomed by Vocabulary,” in the Wednesday, Sept. 7, Aspen Times, I was ready to stand up and cheer.

With an admirable combination of balanced judgment and winning modesty, Chacos charts the often painful course of building a cultivated English vocabulary. While she regrets not taking high-school Latin — thus missing out on that perennially-rich source of English vocabulary — she is doing an admirable job of catching up. She regularly makes a mental note of new words — the majority, of course, being Latin derivatives — and then, when no one is watching, looks them up on her smartphone. She needn’t be so secretive, but that is her way, and it is working.

Throughout her ongoing linguistic odyssey, Chacos is careful to steer past both the Scylla of outworn or puerile words (like the vastly-overused adjective “awesome”) and the Charybdis of sesquipedalian pretentiousness. (If need be, you could follow her example and look up that “sesquipedalian.”)



Clearly, she is a treasure. To The Aspen Times, I say hire her immediately to supply a regular column chronicling the ins and outs of contemporary American English. For her maiden effort, I propose the long-overdue excoriation of the “I’m like” construction, which, in all its obscene variants (“So I was, like, you know, whatever,” or “Then he’s, like, gimme a break,” etc. etc., ad nauseam), is proving a pox upon the speech of young people everywhere — to say nothing of the increasing numbers of adults who should know better.

Donald Wilson




St. Louis