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|In Next Month's TVR|
"And like I'm, like, really grossed out, like ..."
The L-word. A kind of weightless backpack word that's more and more giving us humpbacked spoken English, the lite like has been airily clogging American sentences for years now. The war against the usage well, it wasn't much of a war, alas has been lost for some time, and we language-conscious losers are all trying to learn to live with the new, disjunctive babble.
It is a curious thing about the English language, that although it has a vast vocabulary and rich idiomatic variations, it lacks words for some common and useful ideas. This is so even though we have words for ideas so obscure that they can hardly expect to be used more than once in a lifetime. For example:
abaciscus A square compartment enclosing a part or the entire pattern or design of a Mosaic pavement.
catapan The officer who governed Calabria and Apulia under the Byzantine emperors.
denariate A portion of land worth a penny a year.
Has it ever struck you how human words are?
Like people, words are born, grow up, get married, have children, and even die. They may be very old, like man and wife and home. They may be very young, like veggies and househusband. They may be newly born and struggling to live, as netiquette, gangsta rap, and political correctness. Or they may repose in the tomb of history, as leechcraft, the Anglo-Saxon word for the practice of medicine, and murfles, a long defunct word for freckles or pimples.
The August issue of The Vocabula Review is due online August 19.
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