Why aren't some words words?

dunce-award-2001Why are some words not words you ever hear used?  In fact, if you use them, you have a good chance of being perceived as unintelligent. If unbelievable means NOT believable and unimaginable means NOT imaginable, then uncouth means NOT couth.  But couth isn't a word that is ever used.  The dictionary describes "uncouth" as strange, clumsy, lacking in polish and grace, so "couth" would be the opposite of uncouth.  And if you look in the dictionary, you will find this to be the case.  But nobody ever uses it, well...almost nobody:
"You can get yus' as couth as you wan' as long as it doesn' cos' me any money!"-Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy
Isn't it strange that we can be thought inarticulate by using words correctly?  I often teach my students that it is often more important to "speak good" in order to be clear than it is to speak correctly and be thought a fool.ahhhh-2001 If we speak in the tongues of men and of the learned but have confused our listeners we are as a clanging cymbal.  Often we must choose between what is correct and what will gain the desired response and it can be a tricky choice.  Sometimes I choose to reword my entire sentence in order to be grammatically correct without using the confusing word or phrase. Other times I decide to say the incorrect thing so that I will be understood by most of my audience even if it might cause apoplectic fits of indignation from a few.
"From whom did you receive that tidbit of auspicious news?"
Stay tuned for upcoming episodes of Grace Talk Soup where my co host and I will be discussing this issue in some depth.  Until then, this is Lucy Linguist signing off until our next episode of I Love Language! ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as Crosswalk.com and Dr.Laura.com.  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


  • Sisterlisa

    Very good article JoJo!!

  • Perfect English? « Communication FUNdamentals

    […] wrote a post the other day, Why Aren’t Some Words Words?, about how there are times when speaking perfect English can actually make you appear […]

  • Dianne

    Great post. Precisely the type of thing that tends to send me. Sadly, in our society of email, text, and Twitter, we’ve become quite illiterate.

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