Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Word fun: mangled, co-opted and brand new words

How many times have you seen a good sentence go bad? As often as you've seen a good word go bad? Perfectly good words are constantly co-opted as slang to mean something completely different. But it doesn't stop there. How long do you think it will be before "I suspicioned" will be correct? Ugh! Let enough people mangle or misuse a word and it becomes morphed to what they intended and the rest of us have to deal. Language has always been organic, but some of it just plain grates on me.

I still bristle about spelling the once-contraction of until ('til) as till, which was formerly ONLY a money drawer in a cash register.

I'm all for making up new words. Procrastinatable (mine), for instance, is an awesome word. But I can't say it's awesome because awesome is a prime example of one of those morphed words. In fact, it devastated the title of Awesome Lavratt, where I meant it in the literal sense. And if you go to sf/f conventions, you'll know what I mean when I say, "contastic!" And elsewhen. Another great word that grew most likely out of science fiction.

I wrote a short, funny essay years ago about writing diseases in which I coined quite a few new words and phrases. They include: diarrhea of the pen, terminal tenacity, descriptitus, starkosis and spelldentia. Feel free to read Common Diseases of Writers.

Has abfab made it yet? Other than the nickname for a British TV series? I use a lot. Does that count? I also use "warm fuzzies" as a salutation on emails and when signing my books. I'm not so sure I want that phrase used that way to get in the dictionary. Then it won't be my special signature anymore.

I'm still waiting for the just-right pronoun for a person of unknown gender. It would come in super handy (notice super?) when referring to an unborn child or a person whose appearance doesn't make its gender obvious. This is becoming an increasing problem today. What if we had a polite word to use that gave the person the opening to let us know without causing them offence?

Here Kieran McGovern (in the Oxford University Press blog) ranks his top ten "young words" to be avoided by those not-so-young. OMG, Awesome!, Dude and Whatever were among them.

I have four adult sons, by the way, and all of them answer the phone with "hey" even though they know it's me. And it's not even a completely articulated "hey". It's more of a grunt. Then one of my sons told me how he and his friends call each other names by way of telephonic greeting. After hearing some examples, I was thankful for the grunt.

I was confused by the last sentence in this CNN article about the additions to the Oxford Dictionary in the March quarterly update. Someone please tell me what the last sentence even means. Do people say "it it" or is that a typo in the article?

I'm guessing it's a typo. The next article I perused (from the Telegraph) had one in the first paragraph. Does anyone proof anymore? This one was more recent than the last, pulling from the OED's June update.

I'm done ranting, but would love for folks to jump on board with their pet peeve new words. And most definitely your favorite new ones. Come on, it will make you feel better!

1 comment:

Gary Baker said...

My daughter often says "LOL" instead of actually laughing.
Funny thing is - it can be quite useful as it's marginally more attractive than my snort.