So...how far does a word go? A picture is worth a thousand of them. Eloquence is deafeningly important. The English Language is full of words that can describe situations in ways that are indescribable. Word choice is everything in writing. It can be the difference between good and great, ridiculous and asinine. I am the first one to correct a lesser known acquaintance about using derogatory terms such as "gay" or "retarded" when meaning stupid, and I spend a lot of time nose deep in thesauruses trying to find just the "right word" for a paper but, when is a word just a word?
This week we spent a lot of time debating word choice in articles, and it seemed like the writers chose to articulate only negative things about the word choices in science writing. Science writing is not English writing. It is not meant to be eloquent. It is meant to fit. When it says a sperm penetrates and egg...it is not necessarily compared to the way that a rapist "penetrates" his victim. In fact, the definition of "penetrate" (as defined by Webster) never mentions the use of force whatsoever. The definition of penetrate is to pass through or pierce. As in the way an earring penetrates an ear lobe or a lip. A sperm literally pierces an egg. There are so many misnomers that were put in place by the authors we read.
A great example of this negative manipulation of words is Mutation. A term used in science to describe a gene that has changed due to natural or unnatural causes, leading to a change in the phenotype of a trait. It actually is not a negative thing at all. If you have blue eyes, it is because there was a mutation many years ago that created a recessive gene. However, if one hears the word mutation, they automatically think of a "mutant", a creepy, deformed human or animal.
When you are reading these articles and the author puts a term in a negative light, I want you to stop and think about what the word actually means and whether or not the meaning could be something else that has just been turned derogatory or is trying to be turned derogatory in order to create the picture that they want you to see. Think about it. Queer means gay now? Or does it just mean weird? It will always mean weird. That is a definition. Can it mean both? Why can or can't it? Gay means happy. Or does it? Do not let people cover words in a derogatory lens for you. Think about what it really means. Can you actually think about what it really means or does the author's wording just penetrate your thoughts?