Saving Words from the Fate of the Hypodiastole 12/27/2012
Scientists at the University of Reading completed a study that identified which are the oldest words in the English language and which modern words are likely to go the way of the hypodiastole. That’s a little editing joke. No one uses the hypodiastole punctuation mark anymore. Get it? No? Moving on, then.
Using an IBM supercomputer, scientists who study the evolution of language were able to track words back 30,000 years. They discovered that the oldest words in use today are numbers and pronouns, and that the words “bad,” “dirty,”’ and several others will soon disappear.
But before you begin to fret about what this evolution will do to your personal life, take heart! There is something you can do. The more often a word is used, the less likely it is that the future will leave it behind. So if you have a few favorites, use them often and encourage others to do the same. I’ll do my part by reminding all of you of Michael Jackson’s Bad with the hope that the song will get stuck in your head and you’ll absent-mindedly sing it in public and help protect one of my favorite words.