I’ve been a stickler about words for a long time now. In the mid-1980s, around the time I finished my journalism degree and got my first job, I disliked a song called “Fight for your right to party” by The Beastie Boys. I never liked the use of “to party” as a verb.
In my school days, the kids who “partied” were the dangerous kids. I, on the other hand, had orchestra rehearsal every morning of high school — first period. (That was enough danger!)
I would have a party once in a while. I would even, wonder of wonders, get invited to parties. But in my world, growing up, the word “party” was always a noun.
Maybe that’s why “to party” as a verb seems so wrong to me — but even without the memory of those unknown “partiers” (whose names I never knew anyway), I think I’d still be a stickler about the word.
Using words well yields tremendous variety. Using them poorly — knowing a few words and using them willy-nilly — can make a native English speaker sound like someone just beginning to pick up a foreign language.
So let’s not lose a word by making it try to contain too much, the way George Orwell described Newspeak in his masterpiece, “1984.” (That’s the most powerful book I’ve read all year. Here’s my post about it .)
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Filed under: Expressions