Cornhole *snicker* No, really, they call it cornhole!

This is the most popular meaning

This is the most popular meaning

Communication isn’t an exact science. It’s an art. This is primarily because words have varying meanings to people. It can be a slight variation that really derails good communication. English is a very fluid language. Words are constantly changing or being invented to fill a void.

Take cell phone texting … please. The vernacular of abbreviated and bastardized English has many spelling teachers literally spitting nails.

In that last paragraph you can already see what I mean. First, there is no word such as texting. It is made up. You know what I mean, right? Second, teachers cannot “literally” spit nails. Literally means literal or word for word. Think of it as a synonym for actually. Don’t say things like, “I could eat a horse … literally!” because you are unlikely to catch the horse before the electrical cord runs out on your George Foreman grill.

Other examples of this phenomenon include the word gay. Gay used to denote happy, cheerful and merry. Obviously that has changed to denote sexual preference. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) But it does make one wonder what Fred Flintstone meant by, “We’ll have a gay old time.”

There is a 40-year-old poem that addresses this issue called Groovy, Man, Groovy. It’s author is unknown though some credit Airdrie Ferguson. It starts out:

“Remember when hippy meant big in the hips; and a trip involved travel in planes, cars and ships?
When pot was a vessel for cooking things in, and hooked was the thing that a fish might have been?”

Similarly, I remember when crack was a disruption in a smooth surface and smack wasn’t an illegal drug.

Usually, I don’t mind these changes. It shows a vibrant language that addresses the time we live in. However, there are some instances that make me wonder if we aren’t headed down the wrong path.

Last month, I got an e-mail announcing a fund-raiser tournament. The game to be played is Cornhole. I see it on billboards and in church programs and I giggle every time. Cornhole is essentially a beanbag toss game with similar rules to Jarts and horseshoes. It has grown exponentially in popularity in the last five years escaping halls of booze to make a respectable name for itself. Except it still is called Cornhole.

If you don’t know the less-polite meaning of cornhole just do some research on the various incarnations of toilet paper throughout the ages. This nefarious meaning is not lost on the marketers of this Midwestern game. They go on to mock our sensibilities with terminology obviously created for the Beavis and Butthead crowd. Of course the object is to get your bean bag in the hole of a plywood board raised about 45 degrees. That’s called a “cornhole.” Should you land a bag on the playing surface that is called a “woodie.” I flash back to my adolescence and family television watching and how I would become extremely embarrassed when Cathy Lee Rigby would talk about feminine hygiene products in front of my mom!

I don’t mind a good game of Cornhole, but can’t we find a less offensive word for the game? *sigh*

However, the rest of the world has come to grips with terms like Cornhole and Woodie. Just remember that their origins are less than classy.

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