kaigou: under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac (2 charming maniac)
[personal profile] kaigou
I was writing a reply recently and stumbled at a description. "Straightforward," I started to type, then paused, backed up, and pondered for a bit before coming up with "forthright". When rereading before hitting the post button, it occurred to me that I do this rather often, with the following words and phrases, and use alternates instead.

straight up => right out
straighten out => clear up, set right
go straight => go forward
setting someone straight => correcting, telling clearly
a straight answer => succinct answer
straight through => all the way through
___ straight [period of time] => ___ unbroken [time], ___ uninterrupted [time]

They're not all perfect synonyms, and sometimes I can see I've done a bit of a sidestep around my kneecap to get to my elbow, just to avoid the word. It's not like I'm trying to be PC, only that I think I took it to heart the joke a gay friend used to make, when I was in college: "never go straight, go crooked." (Though if feeling cranky, he'd say, "don't go straight, get bent.")

My sensitivity to the word and its connotations means I'm equally sensitive to reading the word in anyone else's writing. Not that I judge when I see it, only that I think, here is someone not sensitive to that, the way I am, sort of like when you're surprised that someone doesn't get hay fever like you. Neither good nor bad, just a bit of ah 'oh' observation. If someone else also avoids the word... that's harder to assess, because unless it's a really obvious one (where 'straight' would be kind of the default term, so to speak), there are different ways to say just about anything, so the absence isn't proof of anything.

But am I the only one who goes out of the way to avoid certain, specific words? And not even words that necessarily politically loaded, either -- because I also avoid 'overt' and 'sublime', whenever I can.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
ct: a shooting star (Default)
From: [personal profile] ct
I try to avoid alright/all right. No matter which way I spell it, it looks wrong.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
dunmurderin: A clownfish, orange and white, with a banner saying he is NOT a Combaticon!  So no one mistakes him for one, y'know? (Default)
From: [personal profile] dunmurderin
A friend of mine says 'go gaily forward' instead of 'go straight'.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
As left handed person aware of the long history of right=correct left=sinster
I got a chuckle out of your subsitute phrases. To mangle Tom Lehrer 'When correctly viewed, everything is rude.'.


Date: 24 Mar 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
benbenberi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] benbenberi
The problem with "go forward" is that you can make turns & bends while still going forward, and end up in the wrong place totally lost, while "go straight," used in a directional sense, is usually unambiguous. (Except sometimes in places where the roads are bendy and intersect at odd angles.)

Date: 23 Mar 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I have several friends who will say that when giving directions in the car. It does make you more aware of the cliche use of "straight." Plus, somehow it makes you giggle when they say it like that, and that's always a good thing on a road trip.
I have noticed I use some words or phrases too much, and often that's an artifact of adopting some kind of "standard image" or stereotypic idea about what is happening in a scene. It's quicker to use a quickie phrase everybody gets easily, instead of reinventing language all the time, but repeating it too often is a problem.
The other maddening thing I find in my own editing is a repeated use of a word in two *different* meanings of the same word, close enough to rest within a few paragraphs of each other. The kind of word, like gaily, which jumps out at you as unusual enough that repeated use looks weird. Like, it can only be used once in a thousand words, at least. I'm forced to recast both sentences because in each sentence alone they are the best choice, and sometimes really the only choice, to use there. It may be my subconscious at play, but it drives me crazy!

Date: 25 Mar 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kraehe.livejournal.com
Someone recently told me that I was the only person they knew who could get away with using the term "schadenfreude". Perhaps because I preceded it with "massive"...

Date: 23 Mar 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
pixel: Jack and Ianto looking rumpled. (Torchwood) (torchwood: janto mussed)
From: [personal profile] pixel
My ex taught me that one, and while I have shortened it to 'go forward' to avoid having more discussions than I want with certain people, I can't make myself say 'go straight' any more.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
ext_141054: (Default)
From: [identity profile] christeos-pir.livejournal.com
Just remember: Using "all walks of life" or "fast and furious" means you'll be making your own dinner for a week.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
annotated_em: a branch of a Japanese maple, with bright red leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] annotated_em
I'm working on rooting out the ableist stuff in my own language, which is sort of related to this, and is really difficult!

But that's kind of tangential to this. The word that I tend to be kind of careful with is hard. *wry* I, uh. Have spent too much time writing boyslash to not be careful with that one.

Date: 23 Mar 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
soukup: Quentin Crisp is my personal hero (qc)
From: [personal profile] soukup
I have a related problem: some of my characters are so innocent about certain facts/experiences that they'll say the most suggestive things without even noticing. Common trouble spots are spanking, bending over, being tied up, the word "anal," etc. I think my favourite recently was when one of my guys referred to himself (luckily only in his mind) as someone's "whipping boy." <3

Did you ever read anything by Tom Stoppard? For some reason this topic makes me think of his stuff, and especially of his adorable play Arcadia.

Date: 24 Mar 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
leorising: (english lurks)
From: [personal profile] leorising
I can honestly say I've never given the idiomatic or non-idiomatic use of the word "straight" a single, solitary, damned thought. And while I realize you're not trying to convert me, I have to say it strikes me as going a bit too far -- like calling a manhole a "personhole", even though the "man" part comes from "manos".

Sorry if I'm perceived as anti-gay because I use the term "straightforward", but oh well... *shrugs*