The Evolution of Language


Nowadays language is quite different to how it used to be (read any Shakespeare play or Chaucer poem to see the extent of this) and I’m a man that enjoys the more obscure words in our wonderful language.

I long to live in a world where people use such words as ‘balderdash’, ‘persiflage’ and ‘yokefellow’ more often. Unfortunately, I find myself alive in a time where words like ‘lol’ and ‘YOLO’ are becoming the norm. This sort of progression and change is natural in language but there are some changes that simply should not be allowed to remain in use. One such term is ‘sick’ to refer to something good. Now, sick is a not a new word, and yet its meaning has been altered so that now it seems to be a socially acceptable way to express that something is enjoyable. This is simply unacceptable. Sick already has a definition – ‘afflicted with ill health or disease; ailing.’ There are many perfectly good words to describe something pleasing; good, great, superb etc. and if the younger generation is dissatisfied with the plethora of words already available to describe something of quality, then they should invent a new word. Using a word that’s already in common use as a useful and well-defined term and attempting to change its meaning so dramatically and pointlessly is both lazy and contemptible.

It is possible that as a person who dislikes change in general, I may be overreacting to this, however, not only would creating a new word be fun, if it’s created in interesting circumstances then in future the story of its conception and creation could be a spiffing quiz question. Interestingly, the word ‘quiz’ has a very pleasing origin. In case you don’t know, the word ‘quiz’ was invented when one man (I don’t know his name – apologies for this) fancied trying to introduce a new word into the English language. To do this, he went around London, painting the word ‘quiz’ onto walls. As people saw this, they tried to work out the meaning of the word, and voila, ‘quiz’ gained a definition and became a common word. Now, isn’t that far more pleasing than some ignoramuses deciding that they aren’t satisfied with the meaning of the word ‘sick’? ‘Lol’ is also now a fully-fledged word, even taking its place in the OED.  However, I do wonder, if you took a sample of, say, 100 13-16 year olds, how many of them could tell you what ‘lol’ means? I’d guess probably close to 100%. But how many could define ‘loll’? Probably still a fair number (I hope), but I don’t think I’d be too wrong in claiming that fewer would know ‘loll’ than would know ‘lol’. And yet ‘loll’ has been around far longer, and serves more of a purpose than does ‘lol’. ‘Lol’ isn’t even an acronym anymore; it’s just a word that used to stand for ‘laugh out loud’ but is now nothing more than a direct alternative to ‘haha’, which I personally prefer. ‘haha’ is almost onomatopoeic, it’s not trying too hard, whereas ‘lol’ has become complacent, safe in its knowledge that it almost monopolises the ‘written equivalent of mirth’ market, so to speak.

I implore you, therefore, to seek out the more flamboyant and exciting words of our unique and magnificent language and to sprinkle them over all you say and write. Bask in the beauty of words and wallow in the pool of literary eccentricity; it will enrich your very existence.


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About Mark Dolan

Hello there, I'm Mark, a 21 year old English archaeology student. I write about various things; archaeology, musings on my life, and various bits of society that I have something to say about.

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