Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today, Meet A Real, Live Logophile!

This blog runs on words. So, here's the 2013 Valentine. If this is (fair & balanced) logophilia, so be it.

[x CHE]
Loving Words
By Allan Metcalf

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Lovers of language, Valentine’s can be your day too. A day to praise words, not to bury them. A day to sound our barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

Maybe we could take one day, this day of love, to celebrate the words we love. Here are some of mine:

OK, America’s greatest, most democratic, and most useful word, born of a humble joke in a Boston newspaper some 174 years ago.

jazz, America’s next greatest word, born almost exactly a century ago on the baseball fields of California, and within a few years adopted as the name of America’s greatest invention in music.

unalienable, the currently unfashionable spelling of the declaration of our rights and our independence.

loafe, not of bread but a verb expressing our barbaric poet’s modus operandi: “I loafe and invite my soul.”

blurb, Gelett Burgess’s great contribution to self-promotion.

doozy, it’s a, for more than a century.

scofflaw, the best word ever invented for a contest; intended to shame those who drank alcohol during Prohibition.

you guys, the whole population nowadays.

sylvanshine, the most beautiful word not to make it into the dictionary, designating trees that glow brightly in reflected light at night in the summertime.

groovy, what some of us thought we were lucky enough to be for a few brief years in the 60s.

cool, forever cool, while hot blows hot and cold.

like, erasing the difference between thought and speech: “She was like, ‘I like it.’”

couch potato, a great pun now lost under the cushions, but once recognized as a translation of “boob tuber.”

That’s my list. What’s yours? Ω

[Allan Metcalf is Professor of English and College Registrar at MacMurray College (IL). Metcalf is the  executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, and author of OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word (2011). Metcalf received a B.A. with high honors in English from Cornell University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.]

Copyright © 2013 The Chronicle of Higher Education

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