Another gem from BBCR4. The listen again function has a great programme broadcast (as a repeat) last week about how to make a word popular (how to get its use to spread through the population).
Some interesting stuff from the likes of an OED editor and Stephen Pinker like:
1. what seem like new words have been bumping around as minority words for much longer than you think
2. just because there’s a need for a word doesn’t mean that one will be invented nor that an invented one (however good) be more likely to be used
3. most successful new words are dull rather than clever (“look-at-me” words). They’re often like something else.
Language – like the stuff of marketing – is already oversupplied and is in the hands not of the Academies (or Juries of the Great and the Good) but of its users. Think we could learn quite a bit from this.
Anyway, go listen today. Now, cancel that meeting and go listen now: they turn off the listen again facility this avo (UK time) after the next edition…
UPDATE: great example of point two is the really silly lack of a suitable word for “boyfriend”/”girlfriend” of anyone over 25 (and “partner” don’t count, my friends)