04 August 2010

Words, words, words...

I still remember my English teacher in school who advised us to 'read' and learn meanings of five new words from the dictionary daily. I should have taken up her advice more seriously so I would have to 'right click' the mouse for synonyms less frequently!!

The Oxford Dictionary now includes Indian (Hindi or other languages) words. Other than those we also use many 'new' words whose use is often dictated by the very nature of our work. technology or products that we use. Let me explain:
1. Getting information on any topic under the sun is not a problem these days. We simply google it!
Did Google (the company) ever imagine when they launched their search engine that their name would turn into a household verb meaning to search for? Its not uncommon to google symptoms of a disease; side effects of drugs etc...

2. In 1979, there was only one shop in our suburb with a photocopying machine. Naturally getting copies of my SSC certificate meant long queues... Very soon this process was called Xeroxing. It was many years before I realised that Xerox is the name of a company that makes the photocopying machine!! Yet we always ask the office assistant to zerox a document for us...

I am sure you already knew about these two examples.

3. Look at this Deepika Padukone's ad on You Tube. The cute cartoon asks "Kya aap Close Up karten hai?" Obviously the product name 'Close Up' is used to mean brushing teeth!!
What ever the source of this marketing/advertising/creative brainwave, it has successfully replaced teeth brushing with the word Close Up.
(Close up is a successful gel toothpaste by Unilever. The above question translated from Hindi means: 'do you close up?')

4. Every issue of the Business Today magazine has a small section called "Word smith' that features new words. Here is a word I read therein:
What does it mean? Rather than explain the meaning let me write its usage as I understand it: "A new management trainee must ensure the boss gets his morning cup of coffee or get dilberted throughout the day!"

5. Feeling run down? How about a spacation (spa focussed vacation)?

I am sure there are many more such words that we use knowingly or unknowingly.

Does it make the language less rich? Does it convey the right meaning? Just like global warming etc, is this the effect of modernisation and industrialisation on the English language?
Think about it.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I am in dire need of a spacation. =)

In seriousness, I think you make some great points with your examples. Language is fluid and in a constant state of flux. As life/society/whatever presents new challenges, there must be new ways to communicate where we are and where we wish to go. In doing that, language evolves and new words and ideas are born. I think you'd enjoy Peter E. Meltzer 's blog. It's based on his book "The Thinker's Thesaurus - Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words". Whereas some of the synonyms aren't 'new' words, they are certainly off the beaten path, and accompanied by modern examples of writings using the entries. I think it's a splendid example of what you are illustrating here.