Words and phrases I'll try to use less in 2016

Part of the lifecycle of an INTJ is the slow dawning realization, taking place over decades, that accuracy in one's word choice is not the only consideration when talking to other people.

Language is powerful in ways that go beyond its ability to encode information. Language can alienate and reinforce class distinctions. It can make cultural and literary allusions, or make you think that's what it's doing. It can even be an intentional barrier to communication.

There is no such thing as a synonym; different words exist for different reasons, and each brings with it an entire history of times when it was chosen over all other words in existence, and in what tone of voice.

And then to complicate the whole enterprise, one must remember that all definitions, references, and overtones are entirely subjective, and may not exist for the listener as they do for the speaker.

In my arsenal, I have many words and phrases that I use and celebrate for what I see as their aptness and accuracy, and I use them enough for them to be hallmarks of my own personal linguistic style. If you wanted to do cutting impression of me, these would be how the character would be recognizable.

What I realize now is that having a "lexicon" like this makes the act of conversation uncreative and impersonal, and merely an exercise in Terminator head-up display. And even though I think I am always using the "best" word for the meaning I wish to convey, vocabulary does not, and cannot, exist in a vacuum where every word does and ever shall mean for all humans what its dictionary definition says it does.

So in the new year, I will make an effort to recognize when I am reflexively retreating to the sterile arsenal of "my words". They do not actually give the protection against misunderstanding that I think they do, and they make me sound like a giant jackass who struts (what he thinks is) a muscular vocabulary before the world hoping for constant applause. Making use of a deeply considered lexicon for noble reasons sounds, to a listener, exactly like using it for ego. Because it uses all the same sounds.

The Dirty Dozen


"For better or for worse"

And it's cousin "Fortunately-slash-unfortunately".


(when I mean "practical" or "operational")


(when I mean "natural" or "normal")


(when I mean "shyness")


(when I mean "afraid" or "irritated")


(when I mean "aware" or "relaxed" or "easy")


(when I mean "intentional")


"Root cause"


(when I mean "mental" or "psychological")


(when I mean "helpful" or "useful")

...What'd I miss?

For all the wrong reasons

Why do kids get all the bedtimes?