The Power of Words to Change Our World

Published: 28th January 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2014 12:52 AM   |  A+A-

One of the attributes of civilisation is the evolution of the Word. As words were discovered for every new object, feeling , emotion,  vocabularies  grew, man  evolved and realised the power of the word. The latest word from the world of technology is selfie,  a self image taken on a smart phone/webcam and uploaded on a social media website. Something all of us do from the teenager to a President for the sheer kick of it has just received a name that made it to the Oxford Dictionary for 2013.

Soft and sibilant, almost elfin in character the word has swiftly gained currency and has  been  celebrated in  newspaper columns and editorials. Last year’s word was omnishambles, a situation all of us are familiar with at some moment of our lives, a situation comprehensively mismanaged through a series of blunders and miscalculations. The word won by a thin margin over the compound word Eurogeddon which combines the epic conflict of the Armageddon and  the crisis of the Eurozone.

Over time human beings with their genius  have conjured up words that come ready for use as each occasion demanded.

The Twitter website got its name from the short bursts of inconsequential information given by people, tweeting like birds! Again,  ‘Text neck’ is a lifestyle disease caused by inclining the head while peering at a mobile device.When next we hear an intern in a company is given the task of using social media to drive his product and services he is not merely on internship but  twintership. Another word of recent vintage is Langlining, used to describe a phishing exploit where e-mails are customised to evade corporate firewalls. Named after a commercial fishing practice of dropping lines with thousands of hooks.

We know meetings are meant to disseminate information and communicate vision and ideals or on a practical plane emphasise the nitty-gritty.  An overdose of  meetings can be tiresome and unproductive. In fact, it has given rise to a Dutch word ‘Vergaderzickte’ which means meeting sickness. A portmanteau of recent coinage that describes the behaviour of people more interested in their mobile phones rather than those around them is phubbing, a combination of phone and snubbing.

Another fascinating word is ‘epigone’ who is a less distinguished follower or imitator of an artist or philosopher and is in the habit of exaggerating his master’s voice.  Staycation is for families who cannot afford vacations in the cruel downturn of the economy and try to enjoy their stay at home. Showrooming is visiting shops in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price. The elegant Lady Rosetta is a red-skinned potato from the Netherlands used in various savouries. A  favourite of Gujarat farmers. Then we have our very own desi word ‘mango man’.

As civilisation progresses words get invented out of expediency, gain  currency and the language becomes a thing of  “infinite variety”.  It responds and yields to changing social and cultural mores and if it doesn’t it remains purely transactional,  inadequate, uninspiring for human expression.


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