Re: Mixed Message

Subject: Re: Mixed Message
From: Eric Haddock <eric -at- ENGAGENET -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 10:37:37 -0600

>This is etymology.

"Etymology" means origin and development of a word, doesn't it? It's not
a science explaining how meanings have been locked down and set for all
time. The suffix "-man" has changed over time like the meaning of every
other word. (Nothing's static--especially not language and, I would hazard
a guess, particularly not English. It's a grossly inefficient and
needlessly difficult language that speakers constantly alter to simplify.)

Citing etymology as a justification for contemporary use isn't valid.
The centuries-old origin of a word is hardly relevant to the issue if the
word in question is no longer used that way today. Take the word "gay" for
example. Who in America walks down a hallway all smiles and says "I'm so
gay today" to coworkers when they mean "happy?" That "gay" had another
meaning a century ago has no bearing on how that word is chosen today.

Etymology is a pretty interesting field to me. I like reading about
origins of words because I'm a writer and I studied history throughout much
of my life. However, when I sit down at the keyboard I don't think about
what a word's origin was centuries ago or what root language it's derived
from--I try hard to think of how the word is used right now today in
American English (my audience).

Eric Haddock ------ (updated 10.27.96)
Technical writer
Engage Networks, Inc. -----
in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee, WI

There is but one process that cannot be documented: Chocolate

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