Thursday, June 21, 2012

Old words used in new ways

Although I don't always approve, I am nevertheless fascinated at how language changes.
  • I am horrified when people -- not just airheads, but even Mrs. Obama -- use "was like" as a synonym for "said."
  • I feel like screaming when the President says "gunna."
  • I'm particularly pissed off about the substitution of "HEY" for "hello." It seemed to make a rapid transition from playgrounds to CSI Las Vegas and then to the rest of the world. When I was a child, If I used that word, my proper mother would scold me with, "Hay is for horses--not for people!"
However, I have come to accept the "misplaced only," as in "I only eat fruits and vegetables" and I no longer scream when "most" modifies "unique."

I seldom mourn the passing of unused words like "affuage" or "egrote," and I welcome new ones like "staycation" and "vlog."

One new word is the unplanned child of and eBay. "Showrooming" is the process of researching and examining a product in a physical store (such as the suffering Best Buy) and then ordering it  from a competitor online. Best Buy may be hurrying its own demise by selling the smart phones that people use to order televisions and cameras elsewhere.

I am particularly fascinated by the transition of the word "street."

It started as a noun, and has worked as an adjective ("street clothes") and a sort-of-adverb ("he talks street"), and now functions as at least two kinds of verb:

When there's not enough evidence to hold a suspect, the precinct lieutenant or captain may tell the detectives, "We'll have to street him," meaning release him so he can go out on the street.

In retailing, the "street price" is a typical selling price for an item "on the street" -- usually lower than the suggested retail price. A sales manager might say, "The list price for our new KZR-202L is 799.95, but it will probably street for $699."

In video games, music and movies, the "street date" is the date when a new release is allowed to be sold "on the street." The sales manager might say, "The street date for the 3D Blu-Ray is May 10."

Yesterday my company received an order and the customer requested that we attention her on the shipping label.

A marketing magazine carried an interview with a sales manager who said his company would trialize several new package designs.

Another manager wrote that "I cut the majority of my spend each month for the preceding 12 months."

Party has been used as a verb since at least the 1970s.

The spell-checkers in Blogger and Microsoft Word don't recognize "trialize." Neither do Merriam-Webster, or the Free Dictionary. Some references thought that i really wanted "trial size," "tribalize" or "trivialize," however, both Google and Bing found uses of the new word. I suppose the dictionaries will catch up in a few years.

I wonder when "dictionary" will become a verb -- like "Google," "Xerox," "phone" and text."

1 comment:

  1. I have been using "Hey" as a greeting for nearly two decades now. Your mother was wrong, hey is for hello.