Jun 3, 2009

TRULY SPEAKING: Dictionary 2.0

Have you heard the word? Rumor has it that the Information Age is dumbing down society: Text messages, Twitter tweets, and Facebook statuses are corrupting the pristine language we've known, loved, and used for so long. But is it true?

Last month, esteemed writers Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman released their new book, Origins of the Specious. It's about the "myths and misconceptions of the English language"—including the idea that grammatical rules cannot be broken. There's even an argument for ending a sentence with a preposition. ("What!?" screams the editor in me. "What else will they think of??" Oops.)

BTW, welcome to your bonus word for this week: specious, meaning "superficially plausible, but actually wrong; misleading in appearance or misleadingly attractive." And if you think my use of "BTW" as an abbreviation for "by the way" is a fine example of devolution, (bonus word #2: the opposite of Darwin's evolve), remember that ASAP was once the more time-consuming "as soon as possible."

Kellerman and O'Conner say that, like anything else on Planet Earth, language changes and grows. What gains popularity in usage defines the rules of definition. Talk about open sourcing!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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