Saturday, 5 March 2016

Writing - Old books, new words

Books and words are two of my favourite things. People have favourite books and some even have favourite words. If I was forced to choose for each of those categories, the book would be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and the word would be mellifluous.  The trouble is I'm a bit of a chameleon and if asked the same question tomorrow the replies could be something different.
Yesterday I came across a new word, shown below, which apparently is known only on t'interweb! Now usually the new words I come across that are accepted by the big dictionaries I detest because they are often no more than slang, verbal ejaculations adopted because of common usage but vellichor gets my vote.


Image result for old book shops

Vellichor - the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with thousands of old books you'll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annexe littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.

I suppose the sad thing about this word is that unless you use the computer daily it is unlikely that ordinary people, there are 7 million in the UK without the machines, will ever come across it. In reality there has always been a need for a word that describes the amazing atmosphere that evolves inside old book shops.


Image result for oxford english dictionary

Which brings me nicely on to a common fallacy and that is twerk was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) when it absolutely wasn't. It was added to Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO). There is a difference and that difference has a purpose. OED is a historical book that chronicles the development of words and so the new items added, sciency, bookends, and empower are a lot less flashy than the examples added to ODO. The latter does provide a place where new words may be found but that may not be permanent.


Image result for acronym

The above paragraph segues nicely into a collection which are not words, eg. BREXIT

I started working in a  bank in 2005 and was immediately assailed by a plethora of acronyms. A sociologist would have a field day explaining the exclusion of people from certain groups by the use of an 'in' language format or set of data. The acronyms needed to be learnt for a new starter like myself to be able to fit in. The use of 3 letter or more acronyms now seems to have spilled over into everyday usage.

Image result for brexit

Then there is the combination of an acronym with a word to form a new word like the above. Brexit is a word with a representative meaning. It represents Britain's forthcoming referendum concerning staying or leaving the EU and refers to those in favour of leaving.

It is right that language evolves and remains dynamic but if it is allowed to develop in  way that excludes sections of the population then efforts should be made to discourage the change.

God Bless