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JENNIFER'S GEMS
by Jennifer Brown Banks

What's in a Word?
(And Other Ponderings)

“Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

I have always had a love affair with language. Growing up, my mom always surrounded us with literature of some sorts. Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer. Perhaps it’s also why I place such emphasis on the literal and figurative meanings of words and their usage. One in particular puts me in a tailspin…“friend.”

To me, "friend" implies a platonic relationship with a member of the same or opposite sex. But now it has taken on another meaning on the dating scene. My friend, for example, in introducing her mate to others, refers to him as her “friend,” which frankly drives me nuts because it is misleading!

 

But, someone else I know, who’s “in-the-know”, says that it's uncool and juvenile to use the terms boyfriend and girlfriend if you’re over the age 30.
Go figure! I didn’t get the memo.

Oprah Winfrey often refers to her beau of many years, (Stedman), as her “lover”, which to me also leaves a lot to be desired!

Call me old fashioned, but how I long for yesteryear when things were much simpler; when “junk in the trunk” referred to stuff stashed in the back of your car; when a wife was simply known as “the old ball and chain," and a boyfriend was merely a “main squeeze”!

Speaking of Words and Usage... How's Your "Netiquette"?
Take the following quiz to see (Quiz excerpted from Bucks County Community College Distant Learning Resources).

1. Netiquette is short for:

a. Network education terminology
b. Necessary teaching etiquette
c. Internet Inequities
d. Internet etiquette


2. Knowing Netiquette will help you to:

a. Score higher on exams
b. Avoid offensive online behavior
c. Get along better with friends
d. Navigate the Internet


3. All email should be answered:

a. As quickly as possible
b. After waiting several days
c. When the opportunity arises
d. After an appropriate interval


4. Typing an email message in all capitals means:

a. NOTHING SPECIAL
b. You are shouting
c. It’s okay to forward this message to others
d. This message is very important


5. It is OK to forward or post an email message that you’ve received if:

a. The message is typed in all caps
b. It does not contain any copyright material
c. The author of the message hasn’t marked it as confidential
d. The author of the message has given you permission to forward or post it


6. Using “Smiley-faces” in a message is:

a. Childish and should never be done
b. Okay, but they should be used sparingly
c. Entirely acceptable


7. A flame is:

a. An online chain letter
b. A post or email message that expresses a strong opinion or criticism
c. An expert programmer
d. A person who consistently breaks the rules of Netiquette


8. You should always worry about grammar and punctuation:

a. Only when you are sending a message to your friends
b. Only when you are sending a message to your classmates or instructor
c. All of the time
d. Whenever you have the time to pay attention


9. Spamming means:

a. Posting a message that contains graphic descriptions of something really gross
b. Spilling the juice of meat-byproducts into your keyboard
c. Sending nonsensical garbage in chat conversations
d. Posting or emailing unsolicited advertising messages to a wide audience


10. The chat abbreviation “brb” stands for:

a. Be right back
b. Boring, real boring
c. Been really busy
d. Better run, bye
e. Babe, real babe!

Now here's the quiz again, this time with the answers bolded:

1. Netiquette is short for:

a. Network education terminology
b. Necessary teaching etiquette
c. Internet Inequities
d. Internet etiquette


2. Knowing Netiquette will help you to:

a. Score higher on exams
b. Avoid offensive online behavior
c. Get along better with friends
d. Navigate the Internet


3. All email should be answered:

a. As quickly as possible
b. After waiting several days
c. When the opportunity arises
d. After an appropriate interval


4. Typing an email message in all capitals means:

a. NOTHING SPECIAL
b. You are shouting
c. It’s okay to forward this message to others
d. This message is very important


5. It is OK to forward or post an email message that you’ve received if:

a. The message is typed in all caps
b. It does not contain any copyright material
c. The author of the message hasn’t marked it as confidential
d. The author of the message has given you permission to forward or post it

6. Using “Smiley-faces” in a message is:

a. Childish and should never be done
b. Okay, but they should be used sparingly
c. Entirely acceptable


7. A flame is:

a. An online chain letter
b. A post or email message that expresses a strong opinion or criticism
c. An expert programmer
d. A person who consistently breaks the rules of Netiquette


8. You should always worry about grammar and punctuation:

a. Only when you are sending a message to your friends
b. Only when you are sending a message to your classmates or instructor
c. All of the time
d. Whenever you have the time to pay attention


9. Spamming means:

a. Posting a message that contains graphic descriptions of something really gross
b. Spilling the juice of meat-byproducts into your keyboard
c. Sending nonsensical garbage in chat conversations
d. Posting or emailing unsolicited advertising messages to a wide audience


10. The chat abbreviation “brb” stands for:

a. Be right back
b. Boring, real boring
c. Been really busy
d. Better run, bye
e. Babe, real babe!


Are you sometimes at a loss for the right word or seeking to expand your vocabulary? If so, here are some cool sites to check out:

Askoxford.com
Jargon, general questions, spelling, etc.

The Rap Dictionary
For hip hop language and rap culture.

World Wide Words

The Word Wizard

Onelook Dictionary
The one stop shop for a variety of words and origins.

The Word Detective



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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.


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