When there is no word for it in English, why not just invent one?
New vocabulary is invented all the time, but many experiences have no words to describe them, such as the urge to squeeze a fat baby’s legs
The Observer, Sunday 10 August 2014
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Lauren Laverne: ‘There are many human experiences the English language has yet to name, such as the German kummerspeck – grief bacon – meaning weight gained by emotional overeating.’ Photograph: MS photos/Alamy
When even our expansive lexicon fails me, I look beyond my mother tongue. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” and all that. Other cultures have pinpointed human experiences which the English language has yet to name. Continue reading
CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER
Words for the Dumpster
By TIMOTHY EGAN
Published: December 28, 2013 1123 Comments
WITH the last tick of 2013, let’s throw out the most annoying, overused and abused words of the year. A few of these terms, “twerking” or “stay classy,” die a natural death when someone like John McCain starts using them — the aural equivalent of a comb-over. Others need a push.
Amanda Koster for The New York Times
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Many of these words originated in the food world and would have been perfectly fine had they not migrated to the general population. Some came out of mid-management office talk. What these hapless clichés have in common is this: They have been so diluted by misuse that they’ve lost their meaning.
And like bad holiday sweaters and Sarah Palin outrage, the following list is highly selective. To the Dumpster:
ARTISAN Once the legitimate term for cheese makers with alternative grooming habits and creative body art, this word has been co-opted by all the wrong people selling all the wrong products. Toilet-cleaning chemicals. Convenience store “food” with pull dates measured in decades. This is what happens when farmers’ markets fail to sue for copyright infringement. Continue reading
Negotiating the impasse between Congress and the White House, President Barack Obama could do no worse than thumb the new print edition of The Macquarie Dictionary.
The phrase fiscal cliff, business-speak for the national debt crisis, has made it into the dictionary for the first time, as has silo mentality, a derogatory term he could throw at his political opponents. Continue reading
Previous Blog home
Words are stupid, words are fun
As words fall in and out of fashion, new ones enter the language. But some, such as autonaut, chassimover and pupamotor, failed to reach the assembly line.
Spam, the meat, gave its name to computer spam, via Monty Python. Photograph: Alamy
English is a marvellous mashup of words. A few Celtic placenames. A stock of Old English words (day and night, black and white, food and drink, life and death, beer). Continue reading
The world’s doomed in anyone’s language as English is broken
September 02, 201312:00
LANGUAGE is a funny, pliable thing. For centuries it was influenced by the best scholars, who found new and inventive ways to advance it and make it more accessible and useful for everyone. Today, it’s more influenced by the idiots who comment on YouTube.
Dictionary may have the final word on ‘twerking’, but I don’t have to like it
Let’s twerk and then we can take selfies on my phablet . . . Lost? Me too. These are just some of the new terms included in an update of the Oxford English Dictionary online.