Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new

When we look at Language Change we often get interested in new uses of words, or even new words which crop up. So, today we looked at semantic change in one class and thought about words like bitch, gay, moist, sick, grimy and beef which have changed meaning over time and the processes behind these semantic shifts. Last week we looked at new words and word formation processes: blending (moobs = man + boobs, autocutie = autocue + cutie); compounds (studmuffin = stud + muffin, muffintop = muffin + top); initialisms (FBI, BBC); acronyms (HEIDI = Highly Educated Independent Degree-carrying Individual, BOBFOC = Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch, BOGOF = Buy One Get One Free).

But what about old words? In two articles in Monday's Times, old words get discussed and their inclusion in the dictionary debated. In this excellent article, David Crystal - all round language God and one of the speakers at next year's teacher workshops at SFX - talks about what happens when words stop being used or go out of fashion. In this article, The Times ask readers to vote for words they wish to keep in the dictionary and why.

No comments: