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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • RUSSELL HIVELY: Living language

  • It was cold enough to need gloves the other morning as I headed out along Wildcat Boulevard. It wasn't real cold, but a strong north wind cooled the body, especially hands.
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  • It was cold enough to need gloves the other morning as I headed out along Wildcat Boulevard. It wasn't real cold, but a strong north wind cooled the body, especially hands.
    I was thinking about our English language as I walked along that morning. The English language is based upon the old Anglo-Saxon language of people who invaded and had control of England from the Fifth Century until about 1066 A.D. The Anglo-Saxons came from northern Europe and spoke a German based language.
    The Romans had control of English soil for about half that long before, and the local people never converted to Latin. For some reason, the English people took to the Anglo-Saxon language and soon were speaking Anglish.
    Of course, here we speak the Missouri dialect of American English. Everywhere, a living language changes as it is used. We don't need 25 words for snow like the native Alaskans had. In the Ozarks snow is snow, although sometimes proceeded with a "bad" word.
    New words are invented every day. Some are accepted, some not. The meaning of words changes. For example "streak" was what lightning did when I was a kid. Today, it has another meaning. The only electricity involved is that of a mother who spots her own son streaking.
    Recently a list German words that are creeping into the English language, especially with young people, was published. Some I recognized, some I did not. They follow:
    Shlep — to tote
    Shtum — keep it to yourself
    Blitz — put in food processor (Didn't this German word mean something else during WWII?)
    Uber — totally
    Ersatz — cheap substitute
    Zeitgeist — spirit of the age
    Poltergeist — a spirit (Didn't a movie help popularize this word?)
    Rucksack — a small backpack
    Schadenfreude — emotion felt while gloating
    Doppelganger — copy, clone, like image, a ghostly double
    Living language continues to change. Doing so is healthy. If these words stick, they won't hurt the English language one bit.
    I recently was asked what will texting do to our language. All I could answer was, "I don't know." Webster changed the spelling of many words — giving us American English. Maybe texting will do the same.
    Take a walk, realize a living language changes every day, use those signal lights, watch for pedestrians, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.
    Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.
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