The BBC tells us that the oldest words in English have been identified. (Via Heroic Age.) I feel as though I should show a series of mugshots of scowling words with bad hair and greasy skin…
Reading University researchers claim “I”, “we”, “two” and “three” are among the most ancient, dating back tens of thousands of years.
Their computer model analyses the rate of change of words in English and the languages that share a common heritage.
The team says it can predict which words are likely to become extinct – citing “squeeze”, “guts”, “stick” and “bad” as probable first casualties.
Which words do you think deserve to last forever? Which would you expunge tomorrow if you could? Today I’m enjoying ‘unctuous’ (sadly more Latin than English).
13 thoughts on “oldest words in English identified”
“we” is my favorite word. I think it came before “I”. Another favorite is “synchronicity”. I like “eccentric” and “flamboyant”, because to me, they sound like what they are.
Wilkins’ Real Character? True words? I don’t know that I think any word should last forever; linguistic survival of the fittest is fine with me.
How about eliminating “rethink” and “weapons of mass destruction” (I know it’s a phrase, but I think of it as a very long word)?
I would love to no longer hear the words “you know” after every sentence or half sentence that comes out of the mouths of many. It drives me crazy, you know? ;-)
When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Charde would always say there is no such word as like. She drilled this in to us every day. I laugh now, because she must be spinning in her grave at the proliferation of this word. So if I could have one word expunged, it would most certainly be “like”. As for words that deserve to last for ever, I would have to say words which are positive or empowering. I am tired and worn out by the negativity in the world, can we call a halt to that for a little while?
Word to last forever: imbibe (love that word)>Words to ditch: racial slurs (all of ’em)>>You know, today I looked in my very first dictionary (bought in ’89 by parents who didn’t value reading) and the word internet wasn’t there–only the beginnings of what would become the internet were only being created then. >>This thing is a collector’s item.>.heh.
Words to expunge: moral because it’s so misused; the dark side because it has become a cliche.
<>Janine<> if we have magical word powers, can we scrub & repurpose some racial slurs? There are a few antique ones that are hilarious sounding, e.g. “golliwog.” Wish that word wasn't ruined by its own terrible connotations.
I would like the words “panties” and “pus” to go away forever, thanks.
Get rid of ‘nice’. For too long that word has suckled at the teat of noncommittal psuedo platitudeness and it should die.
Lots of people seem to have a problem with ‘nice’. I like it. I wonder why it provokes such irritation…
Nice falls into the same category as ‘interesting.’
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