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I Came Once Upon a Time (Magazine)

For those who don’t read or subscribe to Time magazine, here is something from the May 16 issue that demonstrates how language evolves:

Contact — It used to be wrong to use the word as a verb (contact me) but it became OK because people like brevity (contact me is shorter than get in touch with me), although I don’t seem to come in contact with people who understand brevity.

Nauseous — I have actually covered this one (read about it here), but the word traditionally implies you are capable of making others feel nauseated.

Self-deprecating — The word deprecate goes back to 1641 and meant “to avert by prayer.” Self-deprecate actually is a corruption of self-depreciate, which means “to lower the price or value of oneself.”

Spitting image — According to Bryan Garner in his book “Modern English Language,” the original form was “spit and image,” from the notion that God’s spit and dust helped form the clay that made Adam. But this corruption is now 23 times more common, Garner said.

For better or worse, until the end of time, language happens.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for $14.95.  Order here.


May 17, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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