People communicate. We’ve been doing so for as long as I can remember. Words are just a small part of our communicative skill set. We use sentences, sounds, music, facial expressions, bodily expressions, emoticons and even silence as ways of communication. However, I am fascinated by words, since they represent people’s identity or changes in society on a very small and understandable level.
To give you an example, here are a few new, official and unofficial, words in the English language. These words came into existence quite recently and I think you probably know what they mean. If not, try to guess. The meanings are posted at the bottom of this blog.
Brexit – Bigly – Minion – Hangry – Beardtastic – Internet of things – Memable
Sounds create meaning
You probably knew the words, didn’t you? Let me tell you why. Children learn to combine sounds to create meaning and as adults we do the same. These words have meaning, and in the case of these words, they recently became meaningful. Why? Because that’s what’s going on, that’s what people are talking about.
What’s interesting is that these words are in direct relation to what’s going on in politics (Brexit), to what we hear in debates on television (bigly), to what we see in movies (Minions) and to how we feel sometimes (hangry). These words can relate to friends (beardtastic), to technology (Internet of things) or to a picture (memable). So it’s what we do, feel, act on, hear, see, discuss, …, that makes our language.
You are your words
The Inuit have 50 words for snow. The English have many ways of expressing weather conditions similar to cloudburst, gully washer or liquid sunshine. Children usually don’t know the difference between simmering, braising or steaming, while elder people don’t understand a tag, snap or selfie. And sometimes words in one region have a different sentiment for the same word in another region.
Words for every situation
Choose your words wisely, think before you speak. Context of the situation is one way people choose their words. You’d probably not curse when there are small children around, but you would most likely say “I’m sorry for your loss” a couple of times at a funeral. And what about when you’re drunk?
What soberness conceals, drunkenness reveals.
In this era where writing or texting is a huge part of our communication, emoticons have found their way into our vocabulary. It’s a way of adding emotion and expression to text. In face-to-face communication, we’re able to communicatie with more then words. However, in texting, you’re more limited. It’s the emoticons that tell us about the intention: whether it’s a joke, sarcasm or just a mean comment, or about the sentiment: how people are feeling.
It’s also something that can initiate textpression 😉
Brexit (noun) : the departure of Great Britain from the EU
Bigly (adverb) : in a large way
Minion (verb) : to perform tasks as a minion
Hangry (adjective) : angry and hungry
Beardtastic (adjective) : having perfect facial hair
Internet of things (noun) : a network of machines (such as appliances or medical devices) that can communicate electronically
Memable (adjective) : easily made into a meme