Tuesday December 05, 2017

Meet the author on a mission to rescue 'lost' words

The push for a more expansive English vocabulary — a language that embraces the new and old.

The push for a more expansive English vocabulary — a language that embraces the new and old.

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They come at it from opposite sides, but Paul Anthony Jones and Emmy Favilla are both pushing for a more expansive English vocabulary — a language that embraces the new and old.

'It's always a bit of a tragedy when a word falls out of use.' - Paul Anthony Jones

Paul Anthony Jones

Paul Anthony Jones blogs and tweets under the name, "Haggard Hawks," and also authored The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: A Yearbook of Forgotten Words. 

Paul Anthony Jones

'It's a word that fills in a gap that you didn't know existed in the language,' says Paul Anthony Jones. (Paul Anthony Jones)

Every day, he picks one lost word from an old dictionary, writes about it and tweets it out, hoping it will catch on in a new context.

"The words that I like to pick up on are words that are there to fill in a gap — it's a word that fills in a gap that you didn't know existed in the language," he tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"It's always a bit of a tragedy when a word falls out of use."

Jones: 5 lost words that need to come back to life

Shivviness: The uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear.

Snollygoster: A shrewd and unprincipled politician, someone who would do anything to achieve public office. It comes from the name of a monster that's supposed to live in the hills around Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Ohnosecond: The moment between making an irreversible mistake and realizing that you've made it. Jones posted this entry the day after the U.K. Brexit vote.

Schnapsidee: A crazy or impractical idea that seems ingenious when you're drunk.

 Lanspresado: The person in a group of friends who never has enough money with them.

'I think it's really cool that social media is making room for nuances.' - Emmy Favilla

Emmy Favilla

 

Emmy Favilla

Emmy Favilla wants the unique words and style of social media to be seen as a way to make language richer, rather than as its downfall. (Emmy Favilla)

Emmy Favilla spent five years as copy chief at Buzzfeed, and wrote their first style guide, considered by many the first guide to correct internet language.

Favilla, who wrote the book called A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age, wants the unique words and style of social media to be seen as a way to make language richer, rather than as its downfall.

"I think it's really cool that social media is making room for nuances, whether it's use of newfangled punctuation marks or new words or abbreviations," Favilla tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Favilla: 5 new words that are as 'real' as any in the dictionary

Shippers: Fans who yearn for a fictional couple's romance.

Celebricat: A famous feline.

Bro-down: A drinking session with no women around; a hoedown for bros only.

SBD: Abbreviation: Silent but deadly.

Amirite: Alternative spelling of "am I right;" rhetorical question.

Bonus punctuation: The tilde (~) is a form of punctuation previously used in mathematics to indicate similarity, or in languages like Spanish to modify the sound of a letter. Used on social media to convey irony or sarcasm.

Canadian vowel shift

 Paul De Decker

Memorial University's Paul De Decker studies the Canadian vowel shift. (Paul De Decker)

The Current also spoke with Paul De Decker, associate professor in linguistics at Memorial University Newfoundland, who is looking at change in Canadian English. He studies the Canadian vowel shift, a change in how the way we say "A," "E" and "O" have been shifting across the country in the last two decades.


Listen to the full conversation above.


This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marely.