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Published: January 19, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Adapt to new meanings

Nancy L. Cope, in her letter to the editor of Jan. 8, said she feels robbed because words have changed meaning. I know where she’s coming from. It would be great if words never changed meaning. However, it would seem it’s a losing battle.
There are many words that have acquired new meanings in my children’s lifetime. I guess those word hijackers needed to ruin perfectly good words to describe their newfangled notions: “spam,” “cell,” “thread,” “text,” “server.”
It’s balderdash (“balderdash” used to mean a frothy liquid).
What’s happened to the English language is awful (a word that used to mean wonderful, delightful or amazing).
I guess Cope and I will just have to be brave (once meant cowardice) and denounce (to give official information) this word evolution.
I suppose we’ll just have to grin (show the teeth as a sign of anger) and be content with the knowledge that we word geeks (a performer who engages in bizarre acts) are fond (foolish) of what used to be.
But I do need to point out one problem with the word “gay.” If we trace it back further than Cope’s “gay apparel,” we’ll find that “gay” also once meant “(Of women) leading an immoral, or a harlot’s, life.”
In a dynamic and living language, words change as people change. I guess we’ll just have to adapt.
Or, if Cope would like, we can take up a dead language like Latin but, then, alas, it would no longer be dead and it, too, would change.
I guess that’s how we got to where we are.
There’s more to Cope’s anger than word usage. She’s a culture warrior.
Good luck to her on that front, too.

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Michael Bagdes-Canning
Cherry Valley
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