Word Death

Word Death

Sunday, October 16, 2022
| 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

We no longer hear “mubble fubbles” in everyday conversation, and “crinkum-crankum” is certain to give your spell checker fits. But some words will always be useful to us as Christians.

Words, such as “manny” and “emoji,” are born. A manny is a male nanny, while an emoji is a little picture in a text message, expressing an emotion.

Before the 1990s, those words did not exist.

Words also die. Old English had a pronoun “wit” that meant “we two.” If you were part of a large group, you could say, “We had a meal together.” But if you were dining with just one other person, you could use the more intimate pronoun, “Wit had a meal together.”

Kind of a cute little word. Too bad it has died.

English professor Anne Curzan knows that words in English don’t last forever. Writing in The Washington Post, she says that “word death” is a natural part of a living language such as English. “Ellen” used to mean courage, and now it is simply a woman’s name. “Wer” used to mean man, but now it doesn’t mean anything in English. It’s not even in the...

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