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“Problem” (n.) May Be Dropped from Dictionary

Webster's Dictionary of the English Language

Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language

Problem — the word that Google defines as “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome”  is fading from the dictionary.  Ours is a living language. Words come and go. Google says that problem is synonymous with difficulty, trouble, worry and complication Of course, difficulties, troubles, worries and complications sometimes do occur. But when that happens it’s bad for business and, furthermore,  it undermines belief in the military and in academia and makes government the butt of jokes.

To avoid these kinds of disasters, business and the armed forces, as well as the government agencies and virtually all academic institutions, have quietly done away with the word problem and all its synonyms. In it’s place they now use challenge or issue.  Upper echelon government and military personnel feel much better when facing challenges than when dealing with  problems or complications, and university administrators believe they can handle issues with discretion, whereas worries tend to become public and become very difficult to manage.

Now a populist movement among workers is growing to get rid of deficiency. No one feels good about being deficient, and employees feel especially bad about being stigmatized as deficient in skill or knowledge essential for the job they’re being paid to do.  Middle managers and foremen have suggested that the felicitous phrase opportunity for growth be substituted for the old fashioned and discriminatory word. You wouldn’t be deficient in your ability to prioritize your workload,  instead that would become an area where you had an opportunity for growth.  Everyone likes opportunities. Ours is a living language. It’s great!

 

 

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.