Everybody’s familiar with a word or two that like a polliwog, has evolved into something else over the passage of time.
How do these words change? Who changes them?
The most dramatic example is perhaps the word “gay.” It used to mean a free-spirit person, someone fancy-free, happy with life, bubbling, irrepressible. Today, it means something else, denoting a sexual preference.
Then there’s the word “slut.” According to an old dictionary, a slut is a woman “negligent of tidiness and dress, a slattern.” Today, to most people, it means something completely different, a woman who sleeps with everyone in town. The new dictionary has been updated to define slut as a “lewd” woman.
Clearly, our society has sex on the brain, one of the reasons for the success of the Spice Channel on TV. At this rate, half our words will leave their present meaning and have sexual connotations within 50 years. I can’t wait to see how they’re going to make the word “optimist” sexy.
Some words are changed for political reasons. The liberal left wing is much more apt to play with words for political reasons than the right. For example, “illegal alien” is being changed to “undocumented,” a more innocent-sounding connotation. This is clearly an attempt to get you to tolerate your country being flooded by foreign immigrants seeking social services that you have to pay for. If it’s described as illegal, it makes it sound wrong.
Place names change too. The capital of China used to be called Peking. Now its called Beijing. What committee decided this? I didn’t have a vote. I still call the goddamn place Peking. Besides, if you wait long enough, the former name comes back in fashion like an old tie in the closet. Leningrad is back to being St. Petersburg, which is what it was all along.
Word evolution also applies to human anatomy. The part of the human body that has come to mean a grave insult is the backside, or butt, if you will. Butt-head is one of the least offensive of the many variations using this part of the body to describe a person you dislike.
This is totally unfair. You should love your butt. Where would you be without your rear-end? Try sitting on your head. You’ll roll off the chair. The ass is a wondrous piece of equipment, aesthetically pleasing (on some people), and doesn’t deserve to be used as an insult. Without your rear, you’ll be full of you know what.
The English language in all its glory is constantly being tampered with by ignorant people, particularly in government, those who feel the need to constantly engage in tacky slang and mindless bureaucratic double-speak.
“Let’s revisit the issue.”
“We need input.”