Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently — think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.”Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us, and use it in the title of your post.
I’m not sure that I want to go along with this word-morphing business. There’s enough of it happening without my adding my mite, and I tell you what, for an old lady, keeping up with it can get very tiring. Not to say tiresome.
And you do have to keep up to maintain your cred in this modern world. And to avoid a smack in the mouth, in certain instances. I mean, using ‘gay’ in its original sense could get you into all sorts of trouble. And ‘sick’ now has so many meanings it almost requires a footnote.
And then, of course, there’s poli-speak, which is more of a mangle than a morph, its aim being to bamboozle us into thinking first that the speaker has half a brain (or even a quarter), and secondly that they’re saying something of weighty import. You have to wonder sometimes whether a professional speechwriter with a malicious sense of humour does it to them to show them up as the fools they are, but my idealistic streak hopes that no professional writer could bring themselves to be quite so linguistically crass.
Perhaps the worst, though, is…What should I call it? Fashion-speak? Social media speak? Whatever. The load of rubbish trotted out daily by those wishing to sound hip and happening. Slang I can cope with. Australia has its own highly colourful vernacular that peps up the language no end. But the current craze for manipulating perfectly good words to produce a handy deformity… Trending, for example. And disappoint used as an intransitive verb. Now that one really sets my teeth on edge! I suppose it’s all in the interests of Twitter, but as I have said before, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to avoid being a twit, and screwing with the language like this… I’d die of mortification.
Besides, this new stuff is all so colourless. Can it begin to compete with a rollicking, gutsy word like bollocks? Or hornswoggled?