Tag Archives: words

Dear People Who Describe Non-Food Things as “Delicious”

Dear People Who Describe Non-Food Things as “Delicious”,

Your phrasing makes me shudder.  Apparently, anything and everything can and should be described as “delicious”.  I don’t particularly feel like going into the dictionary’s definition of the word, as it is broad and can really support both sides of this argument.  However, I want you to give the following phrases some thought:

“This wallaby cordon bleu is delicious!”

“This fur coat is delicious!”

“Those boots are delicious!”

“That fifteen-layer, chocolate-strawberry-pâté de foie gras cake is delicious!”

“Your baby is delicious!”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I imagined someone eating each subject as I wrote the above sentences.  And, that’s the problem, really.  Even though the word “delicious” has a just-barely-vague-enough definition to allow for non-food applications, it is so widely used to describe food in America, that it really shouldn’t be used for anything else.

Because, really, the mental image of someone eating a fur coat or my friend’s baby is simply horrible.

Please, please find other adjectives. They exist in abundance.

Please.

Sincerely,

Chelsea

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Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs

Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs,

I would like to make the bold request that you be more precise when speaking/singing/writing.  Using ambiguous nouns and verbs makes it difficult for the reader to decipher what you intend to communicate.  Ambiguity can also result in entrapment or even death, as this letter will no doubt prove.

My first example is something that happened to me today.  I was exploring my school campus, looking for a place to read alone, when I found a really great balcony.  The door leading to the balcony had several signs on it, and I read each one.  Scrawled in some messy penmanship on one of the signs was the statement:

Door will lock after closing.

I thought about this for a moment.  Did the author intend to communicate that the door would lock after the building closed or after the door closed? I went with the former, assuming that, had the writer meant the latter, they would have written something like, “Door will lock when it closes,” or “This door locks from the outside,” or even “Prop the door open by any means if you don’t want to be stuck on a balcony for the rest of your life.”

I soon discovered my mistake and was forced to call a school admin to let me back in the building.  This incident could have been avoided if the wording on the sign had been more specific.

The next example is a very serious one indeed.  You may be familiar with the band The Postal Service.  The opening line of their song “Clark Gable” is:

I was waiting for a cross-town train in the London Underground
When it struck me

What struck you, Postal Service Lead Singer Guy? To what does this “it” refer? Because, to be honest, every time I hear this song, I imagine you standing on the rails, waiting and thinking deep thoughts.  And then I imagine an underground train rushing out of nowhere, hitting, and killing you. (As a side note, I do realize that that intention of the writer is clarified one line later.  However, as a result of the construction of the song, I still feel that the pronoun used here is ambiguous.)

These examples clearly illustrate just how important it is to use clear language.  If you don’t, you may end up in serious danger…or, at least, the subjects of whatever you’re writing, may end up in serious danger.  Either way, it’s something to pay close attention to.

I hope that this letter persuades you to be more careful and specific in your word usage.

Sincerely,

Chelsea