Saturday, June 19, 2010

Defining New Words?

English is a remarkable language. It absorbs words and ideas from any source and keeps growing through osmosis. Some words come from other languages, some are made up and created along the way, and still others move from specific technical disciplines and become part of everyday use.

After all twenty years ago not many of us emailed, none of us texted, and surfing usually required water.

As new terms and ideas get absorbed into the language a wonderful process happens. Collectively all English speakers determine how new words should be used and what is now considered grammatically correct.

Along the way there are bound to be disputes and arguments. I find it refreshing that the answer isn't dictated by formal rules or scholarly grammarians. Instead we end up just doing what sounds right. Even on the path to what sounds right there are disagreements and people who want to make sure that we don't reach the 'wrong' conclusion. Don't think these disputes about language are minor affairs. The term "grammar nazi" was coined for a reason.

Still I have to admire the passion and drive of someone who's convinced many people are making a mistake with the language. If that person also documents the specifics in great detail then I admire then even more. Which leads me to "Login" is not a verb ( Mark Pettit shows us all in great detail that we should not say "I will login to the system" but instead "I will log in to the system". He shows in which cases the attempt to make login a verb fails (including "I logined to the system").

Don't think this is just about "Login". Oh no. He has a list of computer terms we shouldn't turn into verbs. Each with its dedicated webpage explaining why.

What words and phrases are cropping up that you don't like? And would you build a website around them?

1 comment:

Lene said...

Breath is not a verb! Yet, it is increasingly used as such on the net and it drives me batty.

My favourite quote about the English language is:

"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages into dark alleys, beats them up for their words and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."
—Raina Bird