Oh Boy, New “Words”

A news item in a CNN email series that I subscribe to announced on September 19, 2018, that Merriam-Webster has added 840 words to their dictionary. In a prepared statement, the publisher noted that, “The addition of new words to a dictionary is a step in the continuous process of recording our ever-expanding language. The dictionary’s job is to report that usage as it enters the general vocabulary.”

Translation: “Because Americans are too lazy to use real language, and too offended not to be included, we’ll make them feel better by putting their disgustingly stupid non-words in our book.” Continue reading “Oh Boy, New “Words””

Raising a Ruckus Over Resumés

Getting a job is a full-time job in itself, one that requires not merely dedication but also education — not in the sense of a university degree, but rather in the sense of learning an entirely new and largely deceitful vocabulary. It begins with words and phrases that eliminate anything personal. Companies don’t want people; people are inconvenient. If they could get the job done by a machine, they would. Sometimes, though, they have to have those pesky parasites known as “employees,” and they send out a call for resumés. (Oh wait… “resumes”, since that é is just too French for business to deal with.) Let’s have a look at what that actually means these days. Continue reading “Raising a Ruckus Over Resumés”

Stupidity in Wiki Form

Let’s start by explaining that “wiki” (WEE-kee) is actually Hawaiian in origin — a word meaning “quick” and usually in the form of wiki-wiki, meaning to go or do something quickly (“He’s hurt; bring bandages, wiki-wiki!”). Coined by programmer Ward Cunningham to describe a collaborative website or compendium for “quick” or “quickly-obtained” information, we now refer to any such compendium as a “wiki” (WIH-kee), the most famous being Wikipedia. On the plus side, anyone with information about a topic may contribute to the knowledge base; on the minus side, anyone who thinks they have information about a topic may have a wee into the knowledge pool at will. While Wikipedia does what it can to verify sources and police its own compendium, other wikis are reduced to self-parodying stupidity. The best example of this is an online abomination known as the Urban Dictionary. Continue reading “Stupidity in Wiki Form”

Flame Wars

Linguists and language experts — including two of my more favorite foils, Dr. John McWhorter and Dr. Anne Curzan — tell us that a living language changes, evolves, and creates new words (or new meanings for old words) through usage. The idea is that some words, even though they are illegitimate corruptions that should never have been created (or were created through ignorance of proper usage), simply won’t go away. I doubt that this rant will change anything, but I wish at least to re-register my protest. Continue reading “Flame Wars”

We Are Not Bemused

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,
“it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

 

Language is not a stagnant thing; it grows, changes, and evolves, as long as there are people around who still use it regularly enough to need it. Latin is called a “dead” language in that there are no new words being made. Sometimes, a language can be infiltrated by uses of certain words or inclusions of words from a language different from their own, creating what is called a patois or a vernacular. There are times, however, when language seems to undergo bits of mutation that serve only to wear down the value of the language itself. When these monstrous word-creatures take over a language sufficiently, we get what is termed a dialect. As Professor Henry Higgins notes in the musical My Fair Lady, “There even are places where English completely disappears; in America, they haven’t used it for years.” (The play on which the musical is based, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, was published in 1913.) Continue reading “We Are Not Bemused”

Oh, it’s SO on…

logamachy (low-GAH-mah-key) n. — a dispute over or about words

I hereby declare myself a Knight Errant and Defender of Logos in the ongoing war over words, neologisms, the purpose and flexibility of language, and the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Let the controversy begin. Continue reading “Oh, it’s SO on…”

Welcome to Wordsmything

My Handsome Wolf Self
Let’s Talk Words…

These segments in the blogsite are about words. The use of words. The origins of words. The changing nature of words. The outrageous character of words. The raw beauty of the perfectly chosen word. The outright hilarity of the ill-chosen word. The power of words to invoke the worst and the best in each of us. My goal here is to inform, amuse, educate, incite curiosity, provoke response, and – to the very best of my ability – to entertain. Continue reading “Welcome to Wordsmything”