words words words

Words, of course, are fascinating. I wouldn't be here if I didn't find them so.   Just as fascinating as their provenance and meaning is the way they shift and change and elide.  Oh, and go in and out of favour, like meat loaf.  Meat loaf used to be a given in my family, cheaper than roast beef but comforting and filling. You seldom found it in restaurants, diners, maybe.  I stopped making it years ago, too much for me.  This is still about words.  Some words are like meat loaf: you stop using them.  Then suddenly, you  think about a word and wonder what became of it.  Or you notice that other people use different words, perfectly good ones, that never occur to you; they're not part of your repertoire.  Words like task or splendid - I admire people who use those words.  I say job and lovely, not nearly as elegant.  I hate the columns in a newspaper that present invented words as if they are really necessary, usually with some kind of cute pun, as if we needed a new word in that context.  On the other hand, think of all the words that are commonplace today that we never heard of just a few years ago, or when we were growing  up (whichever came first), words like cyber and cyberspace and all the useful words connected with computers and everyday technology or foods that used to be exotic and can now be found in our local supermarket. There's a word; it used to be a grocery store. Parse.  I learned that word in Grade Seven, the last year, as near as I can see, that teachers taught students how to parse a sentence, that is, break it down grammatically into its separate parts: subject, verb, object.  Then, recently, parse pops up again and people are trying to parse a situation.  Take icon.  It used to be a sacred Russian artefact.  Now living people are icons, even role models (another term we didn't use in my day. Actually, I am a role model now, so don't knock it.)  Channel was some sort of conduit, most often for water, but useful in negotiation when   you had to go through the proper channels to get results.  Now, it's a verb and you channel a person, as I am doing with my ever-growing hair.  I'm braiding it now  into one long plait (as it's called in Britain) and channelling my Icelandic grandmother who never cut her hair. My, how times and words change! I could go on and on, and probably will again.  Anon, anon.  Did you know that anon used to mean right away but, given the human tendency to procrastinate, we now take it to mean in a while or later? You probably did.