Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Stunningly pulchritudinous

We're in dire need of a new superlative. 'Fabulous' was abolished long ago, in the 90s or some decade equally horrible. Now it inhabits only the conversation of homosexuals, or other extreme stereotypes in the fashion industry. There was a grotesque period in which 'stunning' was used. Using 'Bebo' as its vehicle, it went from mainly frequenting the vocabulary of chavs to penetrating like a vile poison into the mouths of ordinary people. It also produced the lovely derivative 'stunnah,' which was an important accolade for any self conscious and vanity plagued pre-teenager. Often used to make ugly people feel better about the disgusting picture of them posing into a tiny bathroom mirror - the flash of their camera obscuring everything except some beady eyes and fat rolls - it was probably the most fraudulently used noun there has ever been.
At the moment the latest successor is 'amazing.' The nice 'A' vowel allows the second syllable to be drawn out as long as necessary, depending on how obnoxious and intolerable one happens to be. 'Amazing' is incredibly flexible: it can be used to describe a personal appearance, a piece of written work, an item of clothing, a recently watched film, an experience, and about 64 other things. I have a feeling, though, that its reign is coming to an end: you can practically hear people's crushing inward misery when they have stooped low enough to use it. Without a doubt, 'amazing's' fate was sealed after it appeared in that sickeningly awful Bruno Mars song.
This of course means that society needs a new superlative: a new word that seems to top all the others before it. A new word that can convey just how happy and warm you feel about something. A new word that we can vomit out in desperation when all other vocabulary has failed us.
We could play it safe with 'wonderful,' 'brilliant,' and 'fantastic.' Perhaps go retro with 'stupendous,' 'peachy,' and 'terrific.' But I think we are ready to reach the highs of 'tremendous,' 'magnificent' and 'wondrous.' Maybe even 'walloping.'
The best idea would be to have a different superlative for each situation. When complimenting a picture, use 'sensational.' For comically ugly pictures, try 'pulchritudinous,' because although it means beautiful it's one of the ugliest words available to you. A particularly memorable party can be 'laudable' and someone's shit poem can be 'transcendant.'

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