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THE BEST WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 19, 2012

– And it is certainly not “please.”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

My company has been fortunate to have conducted business all over the world. Visiting the different cultures has afforded us the opportunity to learn a lot about their perspectives on life, not to mention their humor and speech patterns. Inevitably we often compare notes about the expressions and idioms used by people. For example, in Australia, I was somewhat surprised to learn that a “rubber” referred to an eraser. I went to a restaurant and discovered they didn’t have “doggie bags” but rather “pussy boxes.” I had to bite my tongue on that one.

When people from overseas visited with us, they were enraptured by our slang and colloquialisms. The English, for example, had trouble understanding the expression “G2” which I commonly use in my presentations. The term is derived from the military and used to express the performance of research and intelligence work, e.g., “Did you do your G2?” While most Americans understood the expression, it baffled the British. The point is, I tend to believe Americans use a lot more jargon than we are cognizant of.

There is one word in our vernacular that outsiders particularly enjoy, Bulls*** (aka “BS”). In particular, the Japanese have a fondness for this word beyond description. Evidently, they have nothing comparable to it in their lexicon. They consider it the most versatile word in our language fulfilling many applications. It can be used to express intense displeasure with something, to describe a frivolous activity, to refute an argument, to cut someone off in conversation, and many other uses. It was made very clear to me by the Japanese and others, that in the business world, “BS”, is the best word in the English language.

Not surprising, I have heard it used in many settings; in Japanese companies for example, a manager may shout it out for inferior workmanship; in Brazil it is amusing to hear Portugese conversation interrupted by a booming “BS”; or even the proper English allowing it to slip inconspicuously into the conversation, “I say old boy, that truly is bulls***.” The Mexicans have, of course, adapted it to Spanish, “Caca de toro.”

I fear though, the expression is doomed to extinction as it is more identified with my Baby Boomer generation and not by others. For example, my son’s generation has no appreciation for the word and will seldom use it. It’s a pity too, as I’ve found it to be one of the best words I have ever used, both in business and personal settings. Perhaps the Japanese will maintain it for us until future generations in this country rediscover its value.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
REBUILDING LOYALTY – “When you find someone you believe in, do not hesitate to stand by him through thick and thin.” – Bryce’s Law

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10 Responses to “THE BEST WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “Ha! Enjoyable read… And that is no Caca de Toro… “

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “We once had some Italian guys do paving for us. The father of the crew seemed to know only one word in english: “Bool sheet!” He really enjoyed using it when scolding his sons to work harder and faster. It worked. “

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An E.P. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “If you like, you can add an Italian touch with the translation “Stronzate” (same meaning).”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “Well, the word Bull**** definitely describes the current political arena, and although is usage is common to our generation and sadly we have passed it on to other cultures. But to me, it is still kind of a vulgar work, not to be used in mixed company.

    And I must say, it quickly defines some situations and conditions. However is seems that there must be other words to that could be considered the best word in the English language. For instance “Love” is a much more understood word and if we used it more often, we would have a lot less Bull****.

    Through the years, I have found that certain words when spoken in the presence of other create a negative atmosphere. Bull**** is on of those words, absurd is another and there are many that when used to describe what one has just heard will inflame the tempers of many.

    I must really be old not to accept the common talk as OK. But through the years I have watched beautiful rhetoric deteriorate in the least amount of words that can be used to describe our thinking. I feel bad when my 90 year old mother in law can hardly find a movie on TV that does not language that is offensive to her ears. She is normally very tolerant of most things. In truth in the 50 years of my marriage, (we celebrate that on the 1st of August this year.) I have never heard her say an offensive word of any kind. ( I have been truly blessed to have such a mother in law.

    I do understand where you are coming from on the use of the word. It is just not my way to use it among most folks. (but I do have some friends in low places that don’t know any better,,,LOL)”

    Like

  5. As an English major in college many years ago, I learned that all vulgar and obscene words lose their punch with time and have to be replaced by new ones. Conversely, words once considered normal or neutral degenerate into insults; thus feeble-minded is replaced by mentally challenged. In my experience, the vulgar word for the solid emissions of a bovine’s gut has become so commonplace as to be unremarkable. What I can’t understand is – everybody may vocalize the word these days, but you have to write it with ****? People seem to spell out the f-word more often than they write the s-word! Perhaps it’s that writing a word immortalizes it, while an uttered word simply evaporates into the air.

    I found you through the FB group The Writer’s Post. Enjoyed your post!

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Oklahoma wrote…

    “This is hilarious Tim. I will check this out when I get to Tokyo next.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    “Your piece about “the Best Word in the English Language” brought up a story that happened when my younger brother was just about 2 years old (way back in the early 1950’s) At the time, we lived next door to the parish priest house and the adjacent nuns’ resident, who by the way (both the priest and the nuns) would often come by the fence next to our house and talk to all of us. One day my 4 year old brother was out in the backyard with Bobby (the 2 year old), when Sister Rita came over to bid the time of day to the two of them. It was then that the 4 year old, wanting to show off Bobby’s vast vocabulary to the nun, said: “Show sister how you can say bull shit, Bobby.” Well, with that, sister did a soft giggle, and went quickly off in the other direction. My mother, much to her embarrassment, was in the kitchen and heard the entire thing. My brother Bob is no longer with us, but to this day, over 60 years later, our family still tells this story. Thanks for reviving an old memory.”

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    An L.M. of Chicago, Illinois wrote…

    “Now this was just a load of Tommy-Rot.”
    😉

    Like

  9. Tim Bryce said

    An S.P. of Washington wrote…

    “You do not hear it all that much any more. It did fill a lot of jobs. My father, born in 1918 used it a lot. Especially when someone tried to lie to him.”

    Like

  10. Tim Bryce said

    A W.B. of Arlington, Texas wrote…

    “Several years ago, I had the pleasure to work closely with a young graduate student of engineering from Japan who was on a project here in the states. He spoke fair English but struggled to do so. When I asked him what I could do to help, he asked me to “teach him to cuss”. After about a week, we were thrilled to see how well he could shout “Bulls***! with just the right amount of good ol’ American emotion. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment. This is a word that truly gets the job done and gains recognition as such on a global scale for that efficiency. I have a feeling it will hang around but more in the shelter of other cultures than our own. God bless them for preserving something “Made in America”. Good Write! Thanks! “

    Like

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