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September 01, 2013

Publify - And Other Words From The 1990s

Every living language changes in vocabulary, but I would guess that English, particularly the American version...

...changes the most, and the most rapidly of all.

Here's what I mean. Check out this article on words from the 1990s - http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/08/the-rad-new-words-added-to-the-dictionary-in-the-90s-where-are-they-now/279145/.

Many of my students were born in the 1990s and it would be reasonable to guess that these are words that college-age students would have grown up with and would use on a regular basis.

Nope.

Does any use, or even remember a word like 'netizen' or 'palmtop' or 'infobahn'? How about the term 'Y2K'?

Anyone remember 'rad' or 'cowabunga'?

Way back in the 1990s these terms held meaning and were the language of the 'digerati' (those comfortable with digital media and resources).

I don't know about anyone else, but most of these words and terms just seem silly and pretentious to me.

But how many words that are new to us will be embarrassing or long forgotten just a few years from now?

I nominate 'twerking' as a word that should be neglected and forgotten as quickly as possible. 'LOL' probably won't be missed in a year or two. And 'ROTFL' will puzzle linguists in a generation.

To be understood, especially in writing, I hold to a few very simple rules; keep it simple, use whole words and avoid trendy, time-sensitive jargon.

These simple words will serve you well in almost every setting at virtually any language level.

Send me any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let me know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

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

Morf

Posted by mmorf at September 1, 2013 11:45 PM

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