The English language has well over a million “official” words in its dictionary and probably another twenty thousand or more unofficial, idiomatic, and/or regional words that are used by specific groups and have meanings yet to reach any dictionary.

There is nothing you cannot say in English using real words. You can make yourself heard while speaking a language other people will recognize. Not only will this not diminish your communication, it will enhance it while lending you credibility with other literate people.

If there is nothing you can say without insulting and hurting people? Without hate speech and slurs? Best say nothing.

Hate speech and bullying isn’t freedom. It’s hate speech and bullying. It is always ungrammatical and makes my brain itch. Everyone recognizes the invisible lines of what’s acceptable speech and behavior and what isn’t. I think we know this much by the time we get to first grade. The people who regularly cross these lines know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. It isn’t lack of education. It’s lack of empathy for others and that, sadly, is a disease for which there is no known cure.

The speech of the bludgeon or truncheon is no accident. Those who speak thuggish do it with full intent. It’s wrong. You can argue this point until the cows come home. It will remain wrong.

One of the things I’ve always admired about the British upper class — maybe the only thing I admire about the British upper class — is their ability to be perfectly polite while verbally eviscerating their opponents. It’s an art form. They at least understand that a rapier — a sharp, precise tool — is a better weapon than a bludgeon. And usually leaves less of a mess.

If you have to join the fray, put away the bludgeon and give the rapier a try.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

16 thoughts on “USING THE RAPIER”

      1. or the look that passes between two people after you make a comment, and you just know you’ve stepped into a steaming pile of “oh oh” and no one will enlighten you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sometimes, though, it’s their personal “oh oh” and you are just an extra added spice. I can’t remember how many times Garry and I have been in the middle of a pitched battle and then we have to smile for friends — and it isn’t that you’re being secretive. More like too embarrassed to say anything about it.


  1. It’s a very sad fact that many, if not most, of the people who leave our school systems do so not only without an appreciation of the heights to which our language can be taken but seem to actively dislike using anything but the most basic form of spoken or written communication.

    They largely spend all their time associating with people like them who similarly abuse and degrade their language down to it’s lowest common denominator and it shows in their ability, or rather lack of ability, to properly form even simple sentences, let alone be able to express nuance or intricate and exacting speech.

    I fear very much that apart from your highly intelligent and elite followers you are flagellating an exanimate equine quadruped with this one. 😉


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Considering the fact that our teachers went through that same education process not necessarily too many years ago, the dumbing down is in part because they can only teach what they know, and it’s becoming less and less, as decades roll by. The rule of thumb is, a teacher can only teach about 75% of what they know. And administration duties nowadays insist on testing, paperwork, and monitoring, so most of a teacher’s time is spent on paper work, not kids.

      And as one teacher said, not long ago, “learn to speak AMERICAN!” er.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They don’t KNOW grammar and they barely know anything resembling history. They stopped teaching grammar before I got into high school. We actually — as the high IQ crowd scholarships and better university contingent of a giant high school — got a year of remedial grammar lessons because NONE of us could even get 75% on the standardized tests … and we were a huge and talented group. I doubt they are even doing that anymore and as for history, it’s the pablum they serve out of the textbooks.

        The worst part of this is that many of the teachers really mean well … and they are clueless.


    2. This is all bottom-lined at kids who don’t read. Their parents don’t read and they don’t make their homes a place where books matter. Have you ever gone into a house and realized — there are NO books there. No bookcases crammed with novels and history and whatever hobby everyone fancies. Just … nothing. I find that pretty creepy. Most of my education didn’t come from school. It came from reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been told that I have the bad habit of rolling my eyes. (I was unaware of it). Does that count? It’s wordless but apparently says allot.


  3. I have been accused of using the verbal truncheon. I’m not sure if that’s better than a club and worse than a rapier or not…but I do know some people have come away from skirmishes with me saying they felt eviscerated. Well you couldn’t do that with a club, so rapier it is. I guess. And sometimes people are raised to think the verbal bludgeon is an acceptable tool. Which was your point as I took it. It takes some effort to change your style in that kind of battle to the more refined and sharper rapier, and some people never learn to do it. Me? I tend to do what you suggested…since nothing is the least offensive….that’s what I’ll say.


    1. I’m overall in favor of using better English. Words are fun. Battering people until their heads explode probably has its moments, but slicing them into pieces usable as a sandwich spread … now THAT take expertise!

      Liked by 1 person

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