What a difference a word makes…

Mar 1, 2012 | Language

Just fishing...

I recently read a really interesting linguistic article, by journalist Carolyn Bucior, on the dangers of just one little word…

How often have you said or heard “Oh, I’m just a [fill the gap] waitress, stay-at-home-mum, average student, amateur ballroom dancer” – you get the picture. Or heard the phrase “Do you just have the one child then?” or “Just one then?” when dining alone.

What is it with just?! It automatically implies something is lacking. You rarely hear, for example, “Have you been married just the once, then?” or “I’m just a nuclear physicist.” (except maybe on the Big Bang Theory…).

It’s a simple thing but can make a big difference. The article suggests you replace ‘just’ with a one of its synonyms and see how that sounds, how it affects the message: I have merely one child. I am merely a waitress. I am merely an average student.

Or leave it out all together: I have one child. I am a waitress. I am an average student.

Just a little word, with a big impact.

Read Carolyn Bucior’s full article here.