Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lester's English Has Just Improved

After months and months of me reprimanding Lester for using the non-existent word GINORMOUS, it appears that the folks at Merriam-Webster have caved.
According to this Associate Press Story, since it appeared in numerous publications and magazine articles, they decided that warranted officially sanctioning it as a word and putting it in the dictionary.
So let me get this straight... If enough people corrupt the English language, then it's no longer considered a corruption?!?! What kind of logic is that? If enough people break the law, does the LAW change???


Auntie Pedantie said...

Sorry, G6, but that is correct. Though we linguistic pedants would like language to remain static and adhere to immutable rules, language is a living, breathing, growing, ever-evolving entity, answering to the people who speak it and not vice versa. Language patterns are "correct" the moment enough people follow them. We no longer say at dinner, "Prithee, wouldst thou pass hither yon salt?" and let's not even discuss Beowulf, which as far as most of us are concerned is pure gibberish. It was considered proper English in its day.

Evolution is a painful process to those who are less flexible than average, but I rather like neologisms like "ginormous". I wouldn't use it in a government document, but along with other lighthearted, amusing, and eminently correct words like "flabbergast" and "discombobulate", it serves to as linguistic leavening, rescuing language from stodginess.

Among my pet linguistic peeves are the use of nouns as verbs (if I hear one more person talk about "friending" others--the proper term is still "befriend", no matter what Facebook says-- I'll pop) and cheapening language by using overly dramatic words for minor concepts. Running out of cornflakes doesn't "impact" my day; it doesn't even "have an impact" on my day. It may have an effect, but not an "impact". Getting fired or finding out that my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer has an impact.

Dolly Lamma said...

I think rules of language are analogous not to deliberately enacted laws but to rules of etiquette and fashion, which jell after the fact. Once a critical mass of people has been speaking, dressing or behaving in a certain way for a long enough time, that way becomes the de facto rule. Academies of Language merely place the seal of official approval upon what the people have already approved in practice.

So in answer to your rhetorical question, yes, when enough people break these "laws", the "laws" change.