« Doh! Where's my Whatchamacallit ? Whatshisface lost it! | Main | Scrambled English And Eats, Shites and Leaves »

July 30, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green - Or Even Keeping Track Of What "Green" Might Mean

"It's Not Easy Being Green" was originally from the children's television series "Sesame Street". It was a phrase used by Kermit the frog as bemoaned the various indignities frogs (like all living creatures) must...

...suffer through.

A few years later it came to be used as a term to describe the challenges of living a life as "environmentally friendly" as possible. "Green", of course, referring to actions related to clean energy, recycling and a healthy life-style.

And then, just recently, green was the color used by those protesting the election results in Iran.

My point in bringing all this up is that words shift their meanings in unpredictable ways - and sometimes remarkably quickly.

A user of a new language cannot be too careful when it comes to what words have meant in the past - and might mean now. The shifts in meaning just might take you - and your audience - by surprise.

It is not only the words for colors that shift when we aren't looking. Consider words like "nerd", "gay" "hot" "bad' "faggot" or even a familiar word like "game" which has meanings spreading from agricultural to criminal to computer based diversions.

And then there are words that keep their essential meanings as they shift their flavor to adapt to different cultural and linguistic contexts like the word "cool".

It is good to remember that we are all always learning. And it is always more fun to learn together. We can learn as much from the past as from the present.

Let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

He is also waiting for an irresistible job offer...

Posted by mmorf at July 30, 2009 12:08 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)