Category Archives: Language

Word of the Day: Fatalistic

I keep hearing people on the news use the word “fatalistic” to refer to someone who is being really negative/pessimistic about a situation.

For example, “Is the mayor of New Orleans being as fatalistic about the situation as the Army Corps of Engineers?” The person asking the question was trying to find out if the mayor felt the situation was dire and was going to be bad.

“Fatalistic,” however, doesn’t really mean bad/negative/pessimistic. A fatalistic is someone who believes in fate. For a situation to be fatalistic it would be wrapped up in fate or predetermined — not necessarily to be all gloom and doom. Granted, something could be fated to be bad (which is how “fatalistic” is generally understood), but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m not trying to be snooty about this — I didn’t know the difference until my friend was called a fatalist by her philosophy professor. We thought that it meant she was really negative, but really, it meant that she believed in fate.

Oh the fun of language!

As for the news broadcasters — I do sort of wish that they would be more careful of their use of language.

You All Should Start Saying It Now

I’ve been trying to use the phrase “you all” or even “y’all” for quite a few years now, mostly because “you guys” is, while not sexist, gender insensitive? I don’t know. I just felt stupid saying, “What do you you guys think?” when none of the people I was talking to were guys.

That’s why I was excited when I found Are Y’all Enjoying this One? A ‘southernism’ we all know (via Metafilter). Although the article is more about the fact it’s a Southern phrase, I’m glad all the same that the word is getting more widely accepted.

Word of the Day: Veg*n

At work we have quite a lot of random list-serv type “groups” that we can join. My coworker, who is a vegetarian like myself, has been a part of the vegetarians group for quite a while. On a whim, my another coworker and I joined the group yesterday as well.

Let me say, it isn’t at all what I expected. I figured there might be two or three e-mails a week with tips on eating in the cafeteria, places in Seattle to eat, etc. Instead, I got something like 20 e-mails in the first day alone, with topics ranging from PETA’s recent crusade against Tyson to raising kids vegetarian to trying to convert others to the blood type diet.

These topics are all nice and fine to read about, but everything becomes a total flame war. People write huge multi-paragraph responses/rebuttles to every e-mail. It is quite intense!

Nonetheless, I did manage to pick up something useful: the term veg*n. The * (asterisk) in the middle is a wildcard symbol meaning “anything can go here,” so veg*n can refer to vegetarian or vegan. I love the term and intend to use it as often as possible.