Moot Points/Mute Points and the Expansion of my Vocabulary

I have frequent meetings at work with a person who commonly says, “It’s a mute point.”

Before the words are even out of his mouth, the voice in my head insists, Moot! I never actually say anything out loud, though sometimes it’s tempting to respond, “What? Can you repeat that? I couldn’t hear your mute point.” But any attempt to correct his misuse of the word would likely fall on the same kind of deaf ears as my husband’s when I try to correct him when he says “Not doing nothing.”

Me: “Then what are you doing?”

He: “What? I said … nothing … ?”

Me: “Then that means you are doing … Oh nevermind.”

He (cheekily): “Nothing!”

Jack and I have had this conversation so often, that I know he gets it. I just think his use of the phrase is so ingrained that it comes out of his mouth before he can think twice about it. Or more likely he simply refuses to let me win this battle.

Anyway, the mute point guy makes us our meetings fun and we laugh a lot at his many “-isms” so I think I’ll just leave him be. Besides, who am I to be poking fun at others’ use of the English language? I don’t even know what I don’t know! I read a new book over the past week and found myself periodically happening across a word that, although its meaning was obvious to me by its placement and context, was unfamiliar. I appreciated that because I was reading on my Kindle I could just press my finger to the word on the screen in order to link to a definition and pronunciation. I really love books like this! Fifty-four years old I’m still learning new things every day. Keeps the ol’ brain from getting too rusty!

It was a fantastic book, by the way, called This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. The story surrounds a family with five boys, the youngest of whom at a very young age displays signs of gender dysphoria. It was such a compassionate perspective on how and why any parents might decide to not only allow, but encourage their son to live his life as a girl. In addition, I love the way this author writes, with words that are so colorful and descriptive, flowing and beautiful. It gave me insight and perspective I could never have otherwise known, and I often felt gut-wrenching sympathy for the characters in their various experiences. The book frequently inspired jealousy that my brain isn’t able to craft such artistic, impactful combinations of words. And I was so disappointed to arrive at the last page. Five stars for this book! Highly recommend!

It occurs to me that I often also learn new words and phrases in my job. A few years ago, before I started working with lawyers, I thought I had pretty strong skills where words are concerned. It didn’t take many conversations with my new teammates before I started jotting down words in my notes that I intended to look up after the meeting. Talk about humbling!

So the moral of this story is that I, myself still have a lot to learn, and I should stop making fun (even only in my head) of the way others express themselves.

P.S. Do you know what a “stuffy” is? I read this term in my just-finished book and honestly couldn’t work it out in my head at first. If you’re in my age range, and/or you haven’t had young kids around for a while, you may also have missed the movement toward equality among stuffed toys. No more “stuffed animals,” just “stuffies.” Now maybe you’ve learned something new today too. Or quite possibly, I am just behind the times.