Thursday, December 27, 2007
A disheartening number of people choose the word "pick" to express the act of selecting. This does not violate any established rule we know of, but we find the word cacophonous.
Have you done it? Good. Now, is there anything different between its pronunciation and the act of spitting? You may very well have done both. And imagine how grotesque you must appear to others. Now imagine yourself at a society party, sipping Chivas Regal and discussing the finer points of Cicero's downfall with your host, the Royal Dutch of Dukes, who nods in eager agreement while drawing heavily from his Diadema. And as you captivate him with your eloquence and prepare to end your dazzling assessment with a final, riveting point, you decide, from the scads of words and phrases in your lexicon -- select, choose, opt -- to indicate choice, you decide on "pick" and say the following.
"The Philippicae: For someone whose life consisted of making careful decisions, Cicero sure pick--"
And that's all you say, because a droplet of scotch explodes from your lips, ignites its tail on the cigar, and has just enough time to grow into an impressive fireball of 180-proof saliva before braising the flesh of his royal highness's face.
Poor word selection can be very, very dangerous.
Instead, a word such as "choose" sounds much more pleasing and has a far less violent pronunciation--as well as fewer vulgar meanings--than that rascally "pick."
Simple Rule: You pick your nose, so choose a better word.