Words that make me gag:
*micturate (to pee)
*macerate (to chew)
Writers studying craft tend to prefer the short, crunchy Anglo-SaxonÂ portionÂ of our lexicon over the more abstract latinates.Â Anglo-Saxon is pithy: Words like suck, chew, hit, piss, andÂ fuck get to the point faster than their polysyllabic brethren. There’s thrust in brevity. The English languageÂ was not spared in the Roman conquests, and folks still use the language of its conquerors to sound important, sometimes laughably so.
I do like greco/latinates in the right place, but the words for bodily functions make me squirm. Whoever came up with “micturate” for gawd’s sakes? Ew. I will never run to the bathroom holding my crotch for fearÂ of premature micturation.Â Maybe that’s why I dislike the word masturbation–a general clinicalÂ ickinessÂ submerged inÂ polysyllabic lip slapping (macerate on that one). TheÂ word sounds so clinical, depraved, shameful, nothing like the very human sport ofÂ jerking off thatÂ kids usually discover by age 13.
*sternutation: Who would ever think this means “to sneeze”? How about “snatiation”–this is sneezing uncontrollablyÂ on a full stomach, a recentÂ amusingÂ coinage; the Romance languageÂ lends itself to such unromantic pairings.
Latinates can give writers the perfect word in the right context; it’s a damned shame whenÂ writers and editorsÂ use it to obfuscate or, as in so much science/nonfiction writing, when they need to deploy the Squid Technique:Â that’s when youÂ don’t know what to say (or how to say it)Â so youÂ hide behind a cloud of ink.