Having spent much of my career in or nearby a newsroom, I am sensitive to the language we use to convey messages to one another. Language is an ever-evolving process and anyone who gets hung up on changes that occur along the way, well that person needs to chill out a bit. So okay, I’m chillin’. I’m guilty. There has been a change that I simply cannot seem to accept. It’s in the way we refer to someone who winds up missing and it drives me nuts.
Years ago when a person disappeared, he or she was reported as missing. “Sally Jones was reported to be missing this evening as her family can’t seem to remember the last time they saw here…” That’s how Sally’s unexplained departure would have been reported 25 years ago. Today, the new version goes like this: “Sally Jones went missing this morning soon after eating a bowl of corn flakes and then leaving the house to walk her dog.” See the difference: Sally is no longer reported missing…she WENT missing.
I do not know when or how the term “went missing” came about, but it’s been around for some time now and I cringe every time I hear it. To me, when someone went somewhere it was of their choosing. One goes to the store, to work, to visit a friend, whatever. One does not go missing. One is taken by someone or one is involved in an accident of some kind and subsequently disappears.
Play along with me. Here’s one scenario…
“Hey Sally, where’d you go?”
“I went missing”
“Oh, did you take the bus?”
“No someone took me in their van.”
“Well, I’m happy to see you’ve returned. Are you going missing again?”
“Nope, went there once. Once is enough.”
Or try this one…
“Johnny, where have you been?”
“I went missing.”
“Well, did you at least remember to take your tooth brush?”
“No, didn’t have time. These two big thugs grabbed me and missing I went.”
Okay, I admit it, “went missing” is here to stay. I will from this point forward accept the fact that when people are missing, they went there. I will just have to accept it, but it’s hard…almost as hard as accepting when someone will come along and, for sure, ask them, “where are you at?”
Books by Marc Kuhn: THE POPE’S STONE, an historical novel that follows two descendants of a Virginia family who, despite living a century apart, share uncanny similarities in their lives; NEVER GOOSE A MOOSE, a collection of whimsical verse featuring thought-provoking “never-do’s” that children should beware of; and ABOUT A FARM, a children’s book about challenges we all face every day, regardless of where we live. All three books are available at amazon.com and each has its own .com website under its title.
Intimate details about Marc Kuhn and other exhilarating stuff at marckuhn.com
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