The Evolution of Words

Ben Yagoda at Third Coast Audio Festival - 10/...

Image via Wikipedia

Are you getting confused and confounded about the real meaning of some words too? Just look at these words and see if you know their exact meaning:
Disinterested
Momentarily
Presently
Nonplussed

According to Slate’s Ben Yagoda, what is needed is ‘an algorithm to help us decide where on the continuum a particular word or expression lies’ so he created a ranking system. Here’s an idea of how his system works:

‘In the chart below, the number under the percent sign indicates the proportion of the first 20 hits on a Google News search reflecting a word’s old meaning. The “utility rating” is my view of how valuable that old meaning is. Lion’s share gets a 0 because it is a cliché and one can express the traditional meaning simply by saying all. Fortuitous gets a 2 because accidental or coincidental mean pretty much, though not exactly, the same thing. Disinterested gets a 3…’

If you’re a serious writer, I daresay this piece by Yagoda is a must read: http://www.slate.com/id/2290536/?from=rss
The article seems just like a funny satire -and that’s what makes it great.

The Degeneration of Language

In the Philippines, we use a corrupted version of English we call ‘Taglish’ (tagalog-english). It was alright with me until the phrase ‘wait lang’ began to be used. ‘Lang’ in Tagalog (the Philippines’ national language) literally means ‘just’ as in ‘just a minute’. So if we translate ‘wait lang’ literally, it would mean ‘just wait’. The upper-class of Philippine society was where that phrase originated and that was acceptable until illiterate and street people started using the phrase. Even their children say that to them!

I might sound hypocritical but I don’t think illiterate and impoverished people should pretend to be ‘class’ by using that phrase. In the first place, wouldn’t it be more polite to say ‘wait please’ instead of saying ‘just wait’?

Here’s a question for musing: did moral degeneration and technology (textese or mobile lingo) cause language degeneration? Keep in mind that I’m not talking about any native language but language in general.

Reading vs. Writing

It’s funny how you discover that reading can be a great hindrance to writing (if you write) and vice versa. How does that happen? Lets’ say you love reading more than writing. Then comes a time when you’re pressured to write due to inspiration or economic reasons so you’re forced to abandon reading for the meantime (hopefully).

My point is, no matter how much you’re dedicated to one true thing, there will come a time when another will motivate or force you to abandon it, temporarily or permanently, whether you like it or not.

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About DigitalPlato

Poch is a Bookrix author and a freelance writer. He is a frequent contributor to TED Conversations.
This entry was posted in humor, philosophy, publishing, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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