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January 18, 2014

Where Words Come From

English words, perhaps to a degree never seen before in human history, come from almost anywhere; from technical jargon to lines from plays or films, real or misunderstood song lyrics, and of course....

...from mangled, mispronounced and adopted words from non-English languages.

American English (and probably West Coast American English in particular) tends to drive language purists crazy.

But we Americans also (I am convinced) keep this vibrant, ever-changing language alive, dynamic and responsive to ever-shifting cultural needs, experiences and expressions.

I don't mind the criticisms. I am sure Shakespeare heard them too.

And centuries later, we are still using many words that Shakespeare, in the dialog of his plays, either originated or introduced.

Here's a short article with a list of thirteen words most of us never knew Shakespeare invented - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/shakespeare-words_n_4590819.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009.

From 'rant' to 'gloomy', who would have guessed that they came from the Bard?

Play on, my friends, and don't be afraid to coin that word that, centuries from now, the world may use freely.

I hear (and make up) new words all the time. It is always interesting to see a word move from individual or specific use to public and official recognition.

As always, send us any new words or phrases that baffle you and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning 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.

Morf

Posted by mmorf at January 18, 2014 11:00 PM

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