I read a lot. I read even more than I write, which is … a lot. Lately, I’ve gotten caught up in reading articles and blog postings that are supposedly geared toward keeping the public informed about the many issues and public policies which affect just about every aspect of our lives. Some of the articles are very informative. Some of them are designed to make you think. Some of them are down right propaganda, and still others are so far out there, all I can do is laugh at their absurdity.
The one thing I’ve noticed is a prevalence of using oxymorons to make pointed statements designed to leave an indelible impression on the reader. For instance, I recently read an article that gave reasons why “invented spelling” is a good practice to encourage in the pursuit of teaching young children how to read and write. The obvious problem with the idea presented is that spelling is either correct or incorrect.
A better term might be “invented language”, but then that wouldn’t really be true either, because the new words being invented by such creative spelling, would need to have their own unique meanings. Otherwise, they are simply misspelled words. Take this example of a third grader’s attempt at creative writing:
Is he talking about horses or whores? Either way, it’s a misspelled word. On the other hand, maybe this precocious young man was inventing a word that describes both…a sort of cross between the two, though it’s just too icky to picture a horse all dolled up, standing on a street corner in a mini-saddle and high hooves.
Articles covering government and politics make use of oxymorons in just about every other sentence. We read about the government intelligence agencies and a responsible government. Oh, come on now! Intelligence in any government undertaking? Responsible to whom, other than their own agendas? There’s Middle East peace and talk of a peacekeeping force. Do I need to explain the obvious? Then we have “Compassionate Conservative” and the “Diplomatic Offensive” which are too horribly funny to ignore. Ooh, look! My very own oxymoron usage! Probably the one we hear most about in the last several years is the Deficit Spending, an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Speaking of money and spending brings me to another one of my favorites, the idea that we humans have a need to acquire more “priceless junk.” Yet, all summer long, advertisements for flea markets and yard sales make use of the term. First of all, the word priceless has never made sense to me. How do you have less than a price? That would mean NO price. So, according to my brand of logic, anyone who claims an item is priceless, shouldn’t be trying to sell it for a price. It should be given away freely. Junk is nothing more than another word for trash and garbage. Of course it’s priceless. But…if the whole world is going to buy into the idea that priceless means a staggering, beyond the scope of measurement value, then I’m getting gypped. Every Tuesday, I showcase my own priceless junk along the curb. The next day it’s gone, but instead of a check for untold riches, I’m left with a bill. To add insult to injury, it’s called a trash pickup, but every week, my sidewalk is littered with priceless junk that was dropped along the way. How’s that for an oxymoron?
- Political Truth Is Oxymoron (survivingmiddleage.wordpress.com)
- In praise of … the oxymoron | Mind your language (guardian.co.uk)