Thursday, July 21, 2011

Words.


Have you ever wondered what happens to words that the OED has officially retired? They eventually disappear unless dedicated wordaholics continue to use them, saving them from extinction. Admittedly, some words may not be worth keeping around except for their sheer novelty. Language adapts as a culture evolves and some words are simply no longer meaningful. A word's definition can change dramatically, too, affecting its usage.

I found a website that has a pretty clear mission: Save the Words. You'll find a lot of humor there, especially in the "Spread The Word" section. You can formally adopt a word, print a certificate of adoption, and dedicate yourself to the word's use. There are words so archaic that they seem suspect. For instance, several look like words invented for a sci-fi novel. Phasianic is one, clearly pertaining to Star Trek weaponry rather than, um, pheasants. (Yes, pheasants.) I haven't yet adopted a word but I'm leaning heavily toward latibule. I might actually be able to use it in a sentence. An eccentric sentence, but still. It could happen.

If you're a writer (or would like to be), there's The Daily Mayo ("The best filling for the writer's sandwich") which offers writing prompts and exercises, book reviews, quotes, and (my favorite section) definitions for uncommon words. This is where I found agroof, which means to fall on your face. I particularly like it as a past-tense verb, i.e. I missed the stepping stone and agroofed.

Speaking of writing, there's a lot of discussion out there about emoticons, aka smileys, and the proper grammatical use of parenthesis with those smileys. To address the uncertainty, Grammar Girl has developed an easy-to-follow flowchart which you may find helpful and which I think will also make you smile.

Finally, something not related to words at all. The Dutch know how to include playfulness in everyday things, clearly demonstrated by the occasional improvements they make to their mass transit stations. This is the country that turned a public stairway into a keyboard, each step a note, for commuters' enjoyment. The newest addition is a slide, as reported by the Huffington Post. I doubt this would be allowed in U.S. transit stations given how injury-conscious we are, and isn't that a terribly sad state of affairs? Look what we're missing!

Overheard on Twitter: Google just helped me do basic math. It's come to this.

Stay tuned.


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