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What are Words Worth?

Ever heard of Thomas A Swift?

I hadn’t, but I had unwittingly heard of his creation, the Thomas A Swift Electric Rifle or TASER for short.

The term Taser is now used in everyday language and conversation but only came into usage in 1976.

Earlier in the century some of our recent ancestors would have become familiar with Radio Detection And Ranging through the acronym RADAR. Indeed who hasn’t heard of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation? LASER was first used as a description in 1960.

New terms are not all acronyms either. Internet was first used in 1974, blackhole in 1968. Further back in the 19th century, carpetbagging and gerrymandering entered the political firmament as later did genocide (1944) and political correctness (1970)

The definition of a new word entering common usage and then gaining acceptance as part of the language is a neologism.

OMG! LOL’s in the OED. LMAO

Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher beat the kid in that AOL chatroom to the punch by about 80 years. In 1917, Fisher wrote this sentence in a letter: “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis–O.M.G.(Oh! My God!)­–Shower it on the Admiralty!” He sent the letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

Interesting that in the same sentence Fisher uses a term which has been all but lost to the language ‘on the tapis’ meaning ‘on the table’ although tapas did surface in English via Spain in fairly recent times.

So, which neologisms bug the shit (probably a neologism in its own right) out of readers?

I’ll go first……PMSL.

For a Beeb script on this subject and so as we’re all on the same page, click on the link or simply google the subject- Do you see what I did there? (stop it….ed)

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