[thelist] OT (verbage)

Garvan Walshe garvan at compsoc.man.ac.uk
Thu Aug 17 12:10:45 CDT 2000

Greg Strange writes:

> can stop someone, or disparage them moreover, for using a word that their
> audience understands.  Do you understand what they mean when they say
> verbage?  Then it is a valid use of the word.  If not, ask for
> clarification.  This is the way that humans have refined and
> increased/decreased their vocabulary for centuries.

But that is precisely (and I should word this carefully so I don't sound
like a troglodyte) the problem. By all means let us invent new words, invent
new meanings for existing words and preserve the unique greatness of
English, which is that it's a living language with no Academie instructing
us in the use of oldspeak. Yet we *should* disparage people who invent
horrible and clunky phrases like your "Let's russian-doll this" (an
excellent example) because that is the only way to prevent them ruining the
language. Conversely, when someone invents a usage we like, we should spread
it far and wide.

If this sounds horribly elitist, it isn't. It's something we can all do, and
we can only succeed by persuading people.

Now it's time for me to  line up my ducks...

Garvan Walshe

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Email: <garvan at acm.org>

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