I just heard a meteorologist say that the weather for next week is going to be âbadâ.
An unexpected side effect of mass communication, first in movable-type printing and more dramatically in all electronic formats, has been a particularly rapid change in language and lexicon.
Left on their own, one would expect a group’s vocabulary and speech patterns to remain relatively static and quite in tune with their surroundings. An Inuit can have dozens of descriptive terms for snow types, while a Yanomamo would know 30 different types of green. Typically, when there is contact between two disparate cultures, both languages ââassimilate new words and concepts quite quickly, ranging from the concept of numbers greater than nine to whole sets of new edible plants.
However, over the past century, language groups began to develop new and nuanced meanings for words that already had place and meaning.
There was a history in the vocabulary I first learned for nasty things associated with sucking. You could be a sucker, get hit by a sucker, and become a sucker.
However, I remember when a self-contained “sucker” began to acquire its new negative connotation. It was in my early days in college and I had a tendency to hate its disgrace, arguing that there were actually a lot of cases where sucking had a very positive connotation. Sucking on a lollipop or sucking on a milkshake with a straw was not only pleasurable, but demonstrated a pretty amazing ability shared by most mammals and even some birds.