[LMB] OT: Language changes

Louann Miller domelouann at gmail.com
Wed Sep 15 22:40:01 BST 2021


On Wed, Sep 15, 2021 at 4:33 PM Margaret Dean <margdean56 at gmail.com> wrote:


> This reminds me of one of C.S. Lewis's essays--I think it's called "The
> Death of Words"--in which he discusses the way in which words over time can
> lose their specific (and useful) meaning and eventually become just
> synonyms for either "good" or "bad", i.e., words of approval or disapproval
> that no longer have much definable meaning beyond that. The example he uses
> is "gentleman", which started out as a descriptor for a defined social
> class and ended up meaning not much more than "nice man."
>

You are not wrong. The examples that come to mind for me: "idiot," "moron,"
and "cretin" used to be medical terms which were pretty specific about the
amount of mental impairment the patient had. Now when they're used at all,
they just mean "person able to function in society, but whose intelligence
I want to insult."


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