January 13th, 2005


Flower Child (and Language Musings)

Flower Child
I am wearing a flower in my hair today at work. (It's artificial.) I'm hoping it will be cute enough, or at least eye-catching enough, to distract everyone from the pants I selected. Elastic-waisted and odd-fitting, they aren't very attractive. But today I'm feeling too bloated and uncomfortable to fit into my nicer clothes!

My weight has been gradually creeping its way upwards for a little while now, plus it is simply a very bloated time of the month for me. Between those two facts, I feel huge, and none of the pants I like feel comfortable right now. Yuck. On the other hand, I really do like my flower hairclip, so that's helping some.

I was musing about metaphors yesterday, and how they so rarely make sense anymore. For example, I was thinking to myself that I was "bleeding like a stuck pig". Then I thought to myself, why would I say such a thing? I have never seen a pig bleed. Do they bleed more than other creatures? How did that ever become an expression, and what does it mean?

Then it occurred to me on further reflection that actually the phrase might be "squealing like a stuck pig." That makes a little more sense, and it also sounds familiar. I am aware that pigs squeal a lot, and I bet they squeal more when stuck. Hmm...but stuck with what? Is the pig being fitted for a garment, and did the seamstress stick the poor thing with one of her pins?

Or maybe I still have the expression completely wrong. I don't know, and that's the problem. Why do we use these expressions that mean nothing to us? I've never seen molasses move in January, I'm not familiar with the sticking of pigs, nobody has any idea how hot OR cold it is in hell, and I have never seen a chicken run around with its head cut off.

We shouldn't be allowed to use expressions we're not familiar with. Half the time we mess them up -- like my pig example. I'm still not sure what expressions are appropriate with pigs. Also, people change the expression into meaninglessness when they don't know what they are actually describing. So in the hell example, people think that any obscenity can be freely substituted: "It's hotter than fuck." People, that doesn't mean anything! Or how many times have I heard somebody say, "We were running around with our heads off." Your heads were firmly attached; that's not the point of the expression! The whole point is that it's a simile, which means it is supposed to include "like" or "as".

And perhaps that's where the whole misuse of the word "like" came from. It's because most people today have no idea what any of these metaphors mean or how to use them. So we give up halfway through the simile, unable to come up with an apt comparison, and we end up saying something along the lines of, "I was bleeding like, a lot."

Now the word "like" has evolved into its own eerie power, sneaking its way into spoken language everywhere, and it's become dreadfully overused. I find that I can barely stop myself from using it in every other sentence! It's like, really hard....

On that note, I think I'll take a walk. I'm feeling antsier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.