Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exotic (08/08/13)
TITLE: Some Words Just Don't Fit
By Larry Whittington
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The word "Exotic" sounds very "Exotic". It seems as though it ought to be describing something very “Unusual” or “Striking” in appearance. Whatever this thing is that is “Exotic” should not be found in the usual places that I inhabit, otherwise it would not be "Exotic" but rather common and usual.
This thing that is "Exotic" may be “Striking” but just because it is “Striking” does not mean is should be described as “Exotic”. Something that is “Interesting” to me may not deserve the description of being “Exotic” either.
Something that is “Bizarre” may not deserve the description of being “Exotic”. If it is “Bizarre”, it is just “Bizarre”.
Something that is “Mysterious” does not always remain mysterious, especially after it is studied and understood. After the mysteriousness is understood, then it might not deserve the description of “Exotic”.
Sometimes the phrase “Exotic Dancers” is used to paint a picture in a person’s mind in order to lure their presence to the exhibition. Maybe then it really should be advertised as “Exhibition Dancers” and not “Exotic Dancers”. But can we really change the meaning of “Exotic” to “Exhibition”. Probably not!
Another English word given by my Thesaurus for exotic is “Beautiful”. This word would fit if we go back to the word “Dancers”. “Exotic Dancers” may be “Beautiful Dancers” until their face paint and trappings are removed and then they may be neither “Exotic” nor “Beautiful”. Is it their face paint and their costumes that make them “Exotic”? Maybe the word “Exotic” is only describing their movements and what they wear and not the person themselves.
My thesaurus also includes the word “Glamorous” for “Exotic”. I hear there are some “Exotic” animals in faraway places but I am not so attached to animals that I would call any of them “Glamorous”. I can put “Beautiful” with animals but not “Glamorous”.
Let’s go on and look at the next three words: “Colorful”,” Outlandish” and “Strange”. I can see how we might have some “Colorful Dancers”, some “Outlandish Dancers” and even some “Strange Dancers” so we will let this list slide by.
We have two more words that may take some explaining. These are: “Different” and “Exceptional”. Let us consider these possibilities: “Different Dancers” and “Exceptional Dancers”.
If on our travels to “Exotic” places we see some “Different Dancers” we will note that they are “Different”. The problem with this description is that it can’t stick to the same dancers the next time we see them do their dances. They can’t be “Different” the next time we see them as they will be the “Same Dancers” we saw the day before.
Now if we look at the “Exceptional Dancer” we saw yesterday they can be “Exceptional” again today if they perform just as well today as they did yesterday. This description can stick as long as their performance remains the same.
My Thesaurus gives one more word for Exotic and that is the phrase: “Out of the ordinary”. This word can be used with difficulty. If we use the phrase “Out of the Ordinary Dancers”, what have we said? We are saying that we have seen most or even all of the Dancers and the ones we are now looking at are not like any of the others we have seen. The others have been the "Ordinary Dancers" but these have been “Out of the ordinary”. The problem with this usage in place of “Exotic” is that even though they may not have been like all the others, they still may not be “Exotic”.
So, where are we with this word “Exotic”? I feel the word “Exotic” is used much too often just to get attention to the item it is describing. “Exotic” is an attention getting word and cannot really be used as an adjective without question.
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