I’ve been a professional writer for a long time. When I graduated from college with an English degree focusing in writing and editing, there was little hope that I would score a writing job that brought home the bacon, not just the Sizzlean. But I’ve always been fortunate to work in my field of study, and it’s always been in a creative capacity, either in advertising, PR, fundraising, or now, as an author. And since I’m a language artist, I figure it’s okay for me to let language work for me and whatever ideal I’m pushing. And sometimes that means being a little lenient on real versus “concept” language.
Take, for example, “ish”. Ish is a powerful adjective suffix. The concept behind it is genius.
Hey Matt, let’s meet for lunch on Friday.
Sure, Dolly. What time?
Let’s say one o’clock’ish.
Perfect. Ish gives everyone a little wiggle room on timing, takes into account traffic, sloth, or just plain ol’ forgetfulness before the Outlook reminder can jar your memory.
Hey Dolly, how many people are coming
to the Christmas party tomorrow night?
I can’t remember exactly … probably 40′ish.
Ish lets you plan for the unexpected. It’s got a built-in contingency. Maybe there will be 40 people at the Christmas party … or maybe there will be 45. Or maybe only 35. But it lets you be flexible (and no need to get in trouble with the mister if you don’t have to).
Hey Dolly, I can’t believe you’ve got a
14 year-old son. You look really good.
You couldn’t possibly be a day over 30.
Oh, what a nice thing to say. I’m 39′ish.
Again, no need to put an exact number on an age. No need to commit. A generalization is okay, particularly when you need it to work for you. Agree to an age that makes you comfortable … no need to make it appear that you had your 14-year-old when you were 14. And you couldn’t just be in your mid-30′s if you fess up to having your 14-year-old when you were 35. Find a good, middle-of-the-road number and stick with it.
Ish. Add it to your vocabulary. You’ll sound especially current and cosmopolitan’ish.