Should these Connotations Always Apply?

Dark

Just read any book or film review.  Dark implies deep, complex, fascinating, intelligent, and, therefore, somehow worthy.  I tend to think that dark is just dark.  It's not good, it's not bad.  It's just dark.  But, since we're on the subject, I believe that, for reasons possibly akin to the force of gravity, which bodies obey without needing to make any effort, it is easier to depict something dark that something Light.  The same way as it is easier to write a tragedy than a comedy.  The elements of tragedy are the same throughout nations, cultures, and centuries.  Their weight keeps them fixed, unchanged.  Comedy, however, is therefore ever-changing.  A sense of humour alters over time, and doesn't necessarily translate from one culture to another.  So, surely, writing enduring, internationally appreciated comedy requires true genius.  

Light

You hear this word and you think weightless, low-fat, superficial, not requiring much thought, lacking in substance.  And yet think of the actual meaning of the word Light when it's a noun.  Light.  Sunlight.  Daylight.  How many of us can stare at a light without wincing and shying away? Brightness.  Truth.  Speed.  All the colours of the spectrum.  Understanding.  LIGHT.  

Comfort Zone

For some reason, people described as "not wanting to leave their comfort zone" are always viewed with disapproval.  The comfort zone is a synonym of limitations, of fear, of narrow mindedness.  What exactly is wrong with comfort, anyway? Besides, a comfort zone could be a choice that fits our strength and abilities.  In my experience, people who accuse others of remaining in their comfort zone are, quite often, people who are very firmly set in their own comfort zones.

Can I be honest?

Since when has the term honesty equalled negativity, insult, rudeness and unsolicited opinions that are too personal? Someone says, "Can I be honest?" and you can bet all you have that a negative comment is about to follow.  Not only, but that the speaker feels that the word "honest" somehow entitles him/her to impose their opinion on you, and judge you.  "Can I be honest? I don't like the way you've furnished your house." "Can I be honest? I think you have such or such a defect." When was the last time you heard, "Can I be honest? I think you're a wonderful person"?

Real People

For some reason, only working-class, underprivileged, socially and financially disadvantaged individuals are referred to as Real People.  A play, film or book about Real People.  So not Downton Abbey, then.  Rich, privileged people are therefore imaginary.

I once had a play workshopped in a London theatre.  The characters were a barrister, a Cambridge academic, and a polyglot photographer.  During the feedback session, the man chairing the discussion asked the audience, "Yes, but don't you think this play isn't about Real People"? At that moment, I mentally measured the distance between my fist and his face, and wondered how real or imaginary he'd feel my punch landing on his nose. 

Organic

The buzz word of the decade.  Of course, I do believe that everything should be grown organically, i.e. without harmful pesticides, or GMOs.  But I do find that the word Organic is being somewhat overused and abused.

I ask, as I order breakfast in a café, what their baked beans are like.  "Oh, they're organic," the waiter replies, as though that means the baked beans are automatically in a league of their own in terms of high quality, flavour, health benefits, and probably ability in guaranteeing eternal youth.  I have had food poisoning from so-called organic vegetables just as I have had from non-organic ones.  Organic is politically, correct, healthy, tasty, and generally superior.  The other day, swayed, I bought a box of organic cherry tomatoes.  Their skins were so hard, I could probably have used them to re-sole my shoes.  There's a wonderful scene in the film version of David Auburn's play Proof.  A do-gooder older sister is insisting her rebellious younger sister try a hair conditioner with jojoba.  The girl asks if it's a chemical. "No, it's organic," the older woman replies.

"It can be organic and still be a chemical.  Haven't you ever heard of organic chemistry?"

Natural

There is Natural, and there is good.  They two are not necessarily synonyms.  A hairdresser I used to go to kept asking me if we should have my hair look "natural".  

"No," I replied.  "'Natural' would mean I don't come here to have my hair cut at all."

I have a natural tendency towards being impatient and abrupt.  Left in my natural state, my presence in a social scenario would be intolerable to many.

Popular

Sales assistant seem to think that if they tell a customer that a particular item is Popular, then you'll think it's automatically worth buying.  This is based on an assumption that the said customer believes that the majority is always right.  Wrong.  Whenever I'm standing in a clothes shop, dithering over a dress or a handbag, and the sales assistant tells me it's a very Popular dress or handbag, then my knee-jerk reaction is NOT to buy the said item.  I wouldn't want to turn up at a party and see another woman wearing the same dress.

Scribe Doll

Comments 6

 
Stephen Evans on Monday, 05 September 2016 20:43

An interesting question -- which suggest other interesting questions: where do these connotations exist, and how do they persist?

An interesting question -- which suggest other interesting questions: where do these connotations exist, and how do they persist?
Katherine Gregor on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 08:37

In the case of "dark" I genuinely believe (and there really is no judgement on my part because I too am guilty of this) that it's because it's just easier. Slumping is easier than standing up.

In the case of "dark" I genuinely believe (and there really is no judgement on my part because I too am guilty of this) that it's because it's just easier. Slumping is easier than standing up.
Monika Schott PhD on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 21:01

This made me really think, Katherine, and then feel a little embarrassed at the times when I've used them! Thanks for highlighting the 'real'! ;)

This made me really think, Katherine, and then feel a little embarrassed at the times when I've used them! Thanks for highlighting the 'real'! ;)
Katherine Gregor on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 10:10

Thank you for your ind words, Monika.

Thank you for your ind words, Monika.
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 15:14

It has largely to be a matter of spirit and context, I feel. But as you show, some words are appropriated in a bid to ride on a bandwagon. It troubles me a lot that modern dictionaries only detail the shallower meanings of a good proportion of words, their more fashionable and slipshod usage. The comprehensive and original meaning is lost.

Now here's a word that does have two clearly opposite meanings: cleave. Perhaps one a translator might be tempted to avoid.

I quite agree about 'popular' and have the same knee-jerk reaction! :-)

Anyone who tries to live an authentic life these days has to be 'real', whoever they are. That's never in any comfort zone! :-)

It has largely to be a matter of spirit and context, I feel. But as you show, some words are appropriated in a bid to ride on a bandwagon. It troubles me a lot that modern dictionaries only detail the shallower meanings of a good proportion of words, their more fashionable and slipshod usage. The comprehensive and original meaning is lost. Now here's a word that does have two clearly opposite meanings:[i] cleave.[/i] Perhaps one a translator might be tempted to avoid. I quite agree about 'popular' and have the same knee-jerk reaction! :-) Anyone who tries to live an authentic life these days has to be 'real', whoever they are. That's never in any comfort zone! :-)
Katherine Gregor on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 18:40

"Cleave". Yes. I hadn't thought of it.
Thank you for commenting, Rosy.

"Cleave". Yes. I hadn't thought of it. Thank you for commenting, Rosy.
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