Choice Words

Anything can sound impressive if you add enough adjectives.

Take my student newspaper, for example. We weren’t the oldest newspaper in the country. We weren’t the oldest college newspaper in the country. Heck, we weren’t even the oldest college newspaper published on a weekly basis in the country. But we were the oldest continuously-published college weekly in the country, not having missed an issue during wartime, and that long string of modifiers somehow made us sound impressive indeed.

Adjectives have a way of dressing up other things as well. “They make the city’s best pizza (north of 14th St.)” “He’s the best looking ninja turtle (if you don’t count Raf.)” “This is the only photo of Keira I’ve taken this weekend (that I’m including on today’s blog post.)”

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It’s with this caveat — that superfluous descriptions can make some things appear far more momentous than they actually are — that I share this next tidbit of information: this morning, I won first place in a road race.

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Of course, that statement needs a few key modifiers to put it in context. This morning, I won first place — in the 10K distance. Or more specifically, this morning, I won first place in the 10K distance — for my age group. Or most accurately, this morning, I won first place in the 10K distance for my age group — in which there were only seven 24-29 year-old women competing.

But if middle school grammar taught me anything, it’s that adjectives, while descriptive, don’t necessarily add to the basic understanding of the text. In other words, even if he is neither quick nor brown, it doesn’t change the fact that the fox has jumped over the (laziness-status-unclear) dog.

And that means that even though I was really only the fastest woman out of a small pool running a local 6.2-mile race while vacationing in Delaware, I’m still allowed to shout it from the rooftops: I placed first in this morning’s road race, adjectives be damned.

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What are you proud of this weekend?

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2 Responses to Choice Words

  1. Heck yes you should shout it from the rooftops!

  2. Vaughan Waters says:

    “What are you proud of this weekend?” Well, I went into my office and got most of my July billing caught up. That’s it. I’d rather be able to say I placed first in my age group, like you did. I’d rather be able to say I made the race leaderboard, like you did. I’d rather be able to say practically anything that would involve having run a race this weekend, like you did. But I can’t say any of those things. I got most of my July billing caught up. Still, it beats the answer to George C. Scott’s famous hypothetical query in the prologue to “Patton”, of the little boy who wanted to know what his father had done in the most cataclysmic war in human history: “Well, son, I shoveled s*** in Louisiana.” So I have that going for me. Next weekend will be better. — Vaughan

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