Sunday, 27 July 2014

Modern words - or are they?

We like to think that language is of the Zeitgeist, that it to say, language is of the time. However, many acronyms and words we use today actually go back hundreds of years.

'LOL' - in today's social media world, 'LOL' is everywhere and is used so frequently it has begun to detach itself from what it is suggesting (how many of us actually laugh out loud when we have used LOL?) 'LOL', according to one online acronym dictionary, stands for 90 different things, with another dictionary giving 70 definitions including its other unofficial meaning, lots of love. More commonly, 'LOL' meaning to laugh loudly has been around since 1989. However, its life began in the 1960s and referred to a 'little old lady'.

'Texting' - a verb which is associated with communication technology. But 'to text' dates back to 1504 meaning to cite from a book. 

'Cool' - goes back to the 1940s and Charlie Parker and jazz musicians. 'Cool' became popular again in the 1990s after going out of fashion in the middle part of the twentieth century.

'Unfriend' - many of us may like to think it was Facebook that coined this verb. Actually, it dates back to 1659 when it was a noun instead of a verb. An unfriend was an enemy.

'Hiphop' - was first used in 1981 meaning a popular music type. However, it was first used in the 1600s when the second Duke of Buckingham used it in a play called 'The Rehearsal' where he simply meant it to mean 'to hop'.

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