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Language
Saturday 27th April 2013 3:50 pm

I've been reading The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England and yesterday I came to a section about language. It's interesting to see how words have changed their meaning, such as cheap, which meant market and several which meant separate.

Language is changing all the time, but it doesn't mean we have to like it.

For instance, my parents hate "bored of", but I feel that if you can be sick of or tired of something, you should be able to be bored of it on the basis that it all means the same thing. On the other hand, I think that anyone who uses "could of" comes across as uneducated. It all depends on your perspective.

My particular dislikes at the moment are excite and disappoint when people actually mean excited and disappointed. To me it just makes people sound like an idiot and/or sixteen year old valley girl who will only pass exams if they're about fashion or make-up or celebrities.

The word that amused me was one I saw when I was roleplaying on LJ, which was enable used to mean encourage. I always wondered why people didn't therefore use disable to mean discourage. It's just such an obvious next step... (I never got the courage to try and use it myself though, not least because online no one would be able to tell my tongue was in my cheek).

I like the subtle differences we have in words, to end on a more positive note. Such as arse and bottom meaning the same thing, but kicking arse and kicking bottom don't come across the same way. Also how Americans talk about the Doctor wearing suspenders, which leads to much more interesting mental images for anyone from this country.


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Names
Friday 26th April 2013 8:11 pm

Names are interesting. Not least because I found top 100 baby name lists for various years from 1890-1984 and 2010-2011 on the British Baby Name blog. I love the concept of knowing someone's name gives you power over them. You do get an idea about someone from their name, whether it's the right impression or not.

These lists tell us why nearly everyone my age has a mother called Sue. Susan was top of the list in 1954, 1964 and in the top 10 in 1944. It still makes the top 20 in 1974 and top 100 in 1984. At which point half the women in the country are called Susan and its popularity drops a bit and it's fallen out of the top 100 by 2010.

My parents tried to give me and my sister less common names. My name isn't on the top 100 list at all for the lists either side of when I was born. It is in 2010, though, and I suspect reached a peak in the 1990s when it felt like all the three year olds had my name. My sister's name, on the other hand, was in the top 10 of the lists either side of when she was born, so they failed there.

It reminds me of one of the Chalet School books, which had two new girls, one called Samantha and one called Sameris. Since they had similar first names everyone was surprised they weren't related. Because of course you give twins/sisters etc similar names. But they also spent a lot of time exclaiming over how unusual Samantha was. By the time I was born it was in the top 10, so it's really popular, but doesn't make the top 100 for 1954 or 1964, around when the book was written. So they were right, it was unusual at the time!


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Interesting words
Monday 16th April 2012 9:06 pm

While I was at home Dad showed me the centre of the Chambers English Dictionary, which has interesting words in it. Too many to read in one go and most I don't remember. But I do remember some of the collective nouns - these are the ones that particularly stuck out:

A glaring of cats

An implausibility of gnus

A surfeit of skunks


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