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Some enforced retirements

Rosie Right

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Thank heavens the political campaigns are over. One of the unpleasant fallouts from this past year is the overuse of some words that, in the past, have been useful. Now there are a number of them that Rosie hopes not to hear again for a decent interval. Here are a few of these in alphabetical — not political - order, with a few extraneous comments. Accountability - Webster's New World College Dictionary says it is "being obliged to account for one's acts ." This is a wonderful concept, but for a short while, until our brains recover, let's try a synonym like taking responsibility. Character - A fine word and fine attribute. Could we perhaps talk about a person's self-discipline and moral strength? Compassion - This is a highly desirable human trait, but just for a change can we use sympathy, pity, even empathy instead? Experience -What kind? Describe it. Family values - Values are "social principles, goals." Webster's New World College Dictionary defines family as "a household establishment." This leads Rosie to believe that family values can mean anything the speaker wants and, thus, is not a very useful phrase. Fuzzy - This means blurred, not precise, not clear. It can also mean comforting, as in "warm and fuzzy." It should not refer to math. Health care - This confusing phrase once meant medical attention. Now it seems to refer to a confusing system of choices that can leave the consumer in a maze and hurting. Leadership - "The ability to lead." But if we use the word, let's ask, To where? Lockbox - As in the place for Social Security. To quote Carl Hiaasen from the Miami Herald, "We need to put the word lockbox in a lockbox." Battleground states - Unless we are speaking of the old Confederacy, let's let this one rest. Swing voters - This phrase conjures up a picture of dancing or acrobatic voters and, thank goodness, ought not to be a necessary part of our vocabulary for another four years. Working families - Perhaps we could agree that today almost all families are working. Risky - How about using hazardous or dangerous, to give us a rest? Scheme - Webster's gives us several meanings for this word: Among them are "a carefully arranged and systematic program of action for attaining some object or end" and "a secret or underhanded plan; plot." Perhaps we can go for four years talking about plans, not schemes. Surplus - When we need it, where will it be? Rosie will gladly accept nominations for her proscribed-word list. You can reach her at 804-358-0825; at 1118 W. Main St., Richmond 23220; by fax at 358-1079 or by e-mail at rright@richmond.infi.net

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