Monday, January 26, 2009

The Evolution of the English Language

The evolution of the English language is something that has always fascinated me. (I have an almost equal fascination for the French language which resists evolution and much as English embraces it.) Every year, when I hear the news blurb about which new words made it into the dictionary, my ears perk up.

I'm just wing nut like that.

Did you know that the words edamame, kiteboarding, pescatarian, prosecco, subprime, mental health day, and yes, wing nut, were added in 2008?

I have a couple of new words to propose. I don't think they have been in use very long, but I think they would be at least as popular as the new phrase also entered into the Webster dictionary in 2008: air quotes.

I came across these new phrases as I was riding in the car. We were going from one basketball game to another. In addition to my entire family, we had a teammate of my oldest son. My son for some reason started to question this new friend on his parents' marital status. He figured out his friend's parents didn't live together, so he asked, in the casual way that only kids can, if his parents were divorced.

This is the awkward moment when as a parent you want to: 1. Create a distraction (Oh look, is that a Ferrari?), 2. Tell your kid to shut up and not be so nosy, and 3. You actually really want to hear the answer.

The friend answered with a definite "No!"

Well this did not satisfy my son at all. How to explain the living arrangements? He probed some more.

Now even my husband was getting uncomfortable with the line of questioning and the audience listening. He whispered to me to do something. I don't know why he didn't come up with the Ferrari line. Just as I was about to distract the conversation, the friend started on an explanation. And I wanted to hear it.

He said his parents are taking a break. "Huh?" my oldest son says. My husband starts to clarify and say, "Sometimes adults call it a separation." The friend says, "Yeah. It's like they are de-married. Or ma-vorced."

That explained it all perfectly.

So I propose two new words to Webster's, given to me by a 12-year-old.
1. demarried: away from the state of marriage, also denotes removal or reversal of marriage
2. mavorced: a coexistence of marriage and divorce


JSantanna said...

Finally a name for my state. I choose mavorced.

Thanks for the great blog Amber and for posting links to it in FB so that I remember to read it!

Annette said...

Amber I just read the last three posts... this blog is pure joy to read. Your son appears to be following in your writerly footsteps!

Anonymous said...

Alternate suggestion for "Mavorced": Period of time from when Mom kicked Dad out of the house until the divorce is finalized.

Anonymous said...

I have another phrase that you might add to your new dictionary. Regarding the CA woman who just delivered eight babies for a total of 14 children. This just has to be a case of inbistro fertilization.

lol dad