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awk: new word

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I write “awk: new word” sometimes in the margins of my students’ papers, despite the fact that I was told, a long time ago now, that it is a useless comment, very unhelpful. It is a bit unhelpful, but sometimes unhelpful is just what the students need in order to learn for themselves to become better writers.

Anyway, perhaps you won’t be as cruel to and/or pedagogically rigorous with me as I am with them. I need a new word. The word I am looking to replace in my vocabulary, perhaps forever, is utopian. Utopia might be able to stay; I am tired of the adjectival form. I spray it over everything – any intimation of anything good reflexively become utopian. I have utopian intimations, I see utopian glimmers, there are utopian promises and utopian specters.

I never really see anything all that utopian just laying around on the street. It’s the wrong word – even setting aside the tricky oscillation of it etymologically between everything and nothing.

Ameliorative is to tenative. Paradisal is too much and too theological. Salutary sounds neurotic. Socialist perhaps puts too fine a point upon it. What’s a better word for the good stuff that I see, peeking out from behind the debris-pile?

Written by adswithoutproducts

December 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm

7 Responses

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  1. unnameable


    December 9, 2008 at 4:14 am

  2. ‘hopeful’


    December 9, 2008 at 4:58 am

  3. High-minded, perhaps?

    Do students of yours actually come back and say “why is this a utopian vision”? If not, they have much to go in terms of thinking.


    December 9, 2008 at 7:25 am

  4. “Unnameable” is on the right track, but it’s the “hopeful” side that I’m usually trying to replace.

    No sorry awils1, only the “awk: new word” part is for the students. I’ve editted for clarity!


    December 9, 2008 at 8:48 am

  5. s/utopian/promising/


    December 9, 2008 at 10:36 am

  6. >What’s a better word for the good stuff that I see, >peeking out from behind the debris-pile?

    I believe the technical term is “ground score.”


    December 9, 2008 at 2:31 pm

  7. “promising” is probably right. Understated…

    “ground score,” exactly, ha!


    December 9, 2008 at 9:46 pm

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