Awkward!Awkward!Abuse!Abuse!

heidita

Banned
Germany (German, English, Spanish)
So, there is an interesting word for us all.

While the meaning of this word always used to be quite clear: uneasy, embarrassing, clumsy, ill-chosen, lacking grace and a long etc., but almost always ( I know NEVER say NEVER in language) in a negative sense, now it is used for EVERYTHING.
And funnily enough mostly for positive thinking. The abuse of this word and the change of sense is really surprising. People don't seem to know any other adjective any more. The other day on Jay Leno's Tonight Show ( I love Jay!) a man used the word 17 times in about 10 minutes! I counted. Everything was awkward: the group sounded awkward (incredibly nice), the claws of some animal were awkward ( interestingly shaped), the show was awkward (very good indeed), the way the animal bred was awkward (strange) and a long etc.
Not only the change of meaning (most of the time) is really awkward, but also the incredible abuse of this word. As far as I know though, this is mainly happening in the US, or is it?

Americans of this world, what do you think? Should everthing be awkward? Do you also use the word for everything?
What about people from Australia or Southamerica?
Is it actually happening in Britain, too? I wonder, as I last visited Ireland (we loved it!!!!!!!!!!!beautiful, awkward Dublin!!!!!!!!!) and I didn't hear the word even ONCE.

So, tell me, isn't this an awkward post ( beautiful, interesting, strange, funny, ill-chosen, good )??????
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    heidita said:
    [...] Is it actually happening in Britain, too? I wonder, as I last visited Ireland (we loved it!!!!!!!!!!!beautiful, awkward Dublin!!!!!!!!!) and I didn't hear the word even ONCE. [...]
    Well done heidata, Bord Failté will thank you, but only if you promise never again to confuse Britain and Ireland. See the many threads on this topic in the Cultural Discussions forum (ie, please don't start another such discussion here:D ).

    I can't speak for Britain, but as far as I know, this dreadful abuse hasn't invaded Ireland - yet. We tend to be rather fond of words, and cherish them rather than abuse them - at least in that way.

    But we shouldn't be all that surprised. After all, bad has suffered the same fate in recent years. Fortunately, it has survived for most of us, and I expect awkward will survive too as it is such a lovely word with that ungainly wkw in the middle.

    Do we need to form a special society for the protection of awkward in it's original form? Count me in, on the militant wing:D
     

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    This is perhaps slightly askew from the original direction of the topic, but some of you may remember Jane Duncan's books. Her first novel was "My Friends the Miss Boyds" and she continued to use "My Friends" to start her other novels.

    Jane took the term "awkward silence" to new heights, and introduced her readers to the Awkward. An Awkward tends to settle on the dinner table and linger there among the china and cutlery, in full view of the unhappy diners. If not dispelled quickly and firmly, the Awkward will begin to smell of mutton fat and render further conversation even more difficult. (You try to shoo an Awkward off the table before it reaches this olfactory stage.)

    Edited at 2:05 p.m. Reason: Awkward phrasing.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    heidita said:
    I wonder, as I last visited Ireland (we loved it!!!!!!!!!!!beautiful, awkward Dublin!!!!!!!!!) and I didn't hear the word even ONCE.
    Thank you for your praise of my native city. Perhaps I see its faults too frequently to use the "beautiful" word very often about it, but I do love the place.

    As a Dubliner it interests me that you use "awkward" about the city in a thread about the 'many' uses/abuses of it.
    Would you be so kind as to explain what use you are making of it when you refer to Dublin?
    We use awkward a lot in Dublin and I'm surprised you didn't find anyone using it.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I've never heard awkward used to mean such things. Perhaps I live beyond the reach of Leno. How awkward for him, contorting himself into such odd positions, trying to reach me, despite my lack of a television,
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I think it an awkward approach to make such generalizations when this seems to be an apparent abuse by one native English speaker. Count me in as another USer who uses awkward only in its intended context.

    Perhaps this gentleman himself was of the awkward variety, and as such, did not really know how to comport himself on a television show viewed by 8 million people. Perchance, do you recall who exactly this gentleman was? That might help explain things.
     

    ElaineG

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    I haven't heard any such abuse of awkward going on in my neck of the woods; indeed, if I hear the word in my mind, I hear it with a British accent, and picture a refined gentleman upon being discovered in a compromising position with a woman not his wife saying, "Really, this is all a bit awkward, isn't it?"

    I'm kidding, in part, of course: I would use awkward to describe my attempts to learn to shoot a free throw, or any number of social situations, but I can't see using it to describe "claws" under any normal circumstances.

    I agree with Jen that this guest probably felt awkward on national television and as a consequence, had trouble finding appropriate words for things.

    After all, I think we all go through phases were we find ourselves grasping for a word and coming up with the same one over and over again.
     

    cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    Well, if this is indeed a new trend, it seems reminiscent of "awesome" which (I believe through the efforts of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure) took a steep nose-dive into banality.

    Awesome used to be for something truly aweinspiring... now it is for something mildly interesting.

    I do hope awkward isn't going the same way.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    How awkward of Heidita to have begun this urban myth, only to have been refuted, however awkwardly, by a small but vehement contingent of awkers, gawkers, and stalkers.
     

    heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    maxiogee said:
    Thank you for your praise of my native city. Perhaps I see its faults too frequently to use the "beautiful" word very often about it, but I do love the place.

    As a Dubliner it interests me that you use "awkward" about the city in a thread about the 'many' uses/abuses of it.
    Would you be so kind as to explain what use you are making of it when you refer to Dublin?
    We use awkward a lot in Dublin and I'm surprised you didn't find anyone using it.
    I really didn't. So I was so interested to hear a native talk about this.
    I meant awkward in the abused/used good sense, of course.
    We really loved dear Dublin, and above all, dear Dubliners.
    Just to give a small example.. Our first visit to a local Pub, and somebody drinking what didn't seem to be a Guinness. So I asked what it might taste like and the man....handed his beer out to me to try it!!!!!!!!
    So we were enchanted by the city and its people.
     

    heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    panjandrum said:
    Well done heidata, Bord Failté will thank you, but only if you promise never again to confuse Britain and Ireland. See the many threads on this topic in the Cultural Discussions forum (ie, please don't start another such discussion here:D ).

    I can't speak for Britain, but as far as I know, this dreadful abuse hasn't invaded Ireland - yet. We tend to be rather fond of words, and cherish them rather than abuse them - at least in that way.

    But we shouldn't be all that surprised. After all, bad has suffered the same fate in recent years. Fortunately, it has survived for most of us, and I expect awkward will survive too as it is such a lovely word with that ungainly wkw in the middle.

    Do we need to form a special society for the protection of awkward in it's original form? Cound me in, on the militant wing:D
    Thanks for having a new friend in the "word defender" league.
    AND SHAME ON ME ..... for the confusion. I have no idea how this could happen.
     

    heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Thanks to everybody. I loved your replies and the discussion on the term. But nobody from Southamerica answered. Is this term not used/abused/known?
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Isn't this an international phenomenon? In French I haven't seen the word terrible in its original meaning for many many years. Same situation in Finnish (kamala), in Swedish (hemsk), in German (schrecklich) etc.

    As a counterbalance for this, there are also originally 'negative' words that are now used in an 'extremely positive' meaning.

    It can be very confusing for anybody who's learning a foreign language. So I'm ready to join the troops.
     

    heidita

    Banned
    Germany (German, English, Spanish)
    Hakro said:
    Isn't this an international phenomenon? In French I haven't seen the word terrible in its original meaning for many many years. Same situation in Finnish (kamala), in Swedish (hemsk), in German (schrecklich) etc.

    As a counterbalance for this, there are also originally 'negative' words that are now used in an 'extremely positive' meaning.

    It can be very confusing for anybody who's learning a foreign language. So I'm ready to join the troops.
    I agree totally, there is a German word ( I know this is the English only Forum) which has completely changed its meaning, too. From meaning only sexually aroused it has become to mean wonderful, nice, funny, extraordinary.

    This is really amazing. So, I understand that the language changes but soooooo much???? I'm too Victorian for this changing world.

    Ok, thanks to you all for the great viewing and the amount of replies.
     
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