In another example of what's likely to become an ongoing feature here at Simple Tricks, allow me to gripe about yet another trivial thing that's been annoying me for some time and has finally built to critical mass: my local newspaper's use of the term "tot" to describe young children.
It's a perfectly valid use of the word, of course -- it's in the dictionary and everything -- but I don't like it. There's the unfortunate association with deep-fried potato products, for one thing, but the bigger problem is that it just sounds dumb, at least to my ear. It's cutesy and cloying and somehow, in a way I can't quite put my finger on, quite smug-sounding. I hate it, and would be perfectly happy to never hear it used in relation to a human child again. So naturally the writers and editors at the Tribune seem to have some kind of sick fascination for it. A quick online search of the paper's web archive shows that it's been used at least four times in the past month, mostly recently this morning, in a headline that I found unbearably obnoxious ("Tot calls dad, saves mom's life"). And that's not even counting the articles about the State-of-Utah-sponsored "Spot the Tot" campaign to reduce driveway accidents. ("Spot the Tot"... good lord, that name is so Utah, all drippy and cutesy. We do love our cutesy here in this state...)
I know it's not rational, my hatred for this little word -- actually, now that I think about it, the paper probably uses it because it is a little word, and thus takes up less space -- but seeing it in a headline or paragraph just stops me dead in my tracks, like a pickup truck hitting a concrete abutment at about 75 mph. When I become Ruler of the Universe, it will be abolished in all instances. Even in reference to those deep-fried potato products, which shall henceforth be known as "yummy carbo-laden grease pods."
That is all.