Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Save The Words

savethewords.org Do you know that words become extinct if they aren't used enough? Lexicographers research word usage and drop hundreds of neglected words from the dictionary every year.

To counter this, Oxford University Press has launched an initiative called Save The Words. You can 'adopt' a word i.e. resolve to use it more, in your conversations, written communication or anywhere else. This increases the chances of the word's survival.

Why Should You Save Words?
Words make language richer. Synonyms are not interchangeable. There is a difference between insufficiency, poverty and penury, and language would be poorer without any one of these words.

Studies also find a correlation between a culture's language and how members of the culture think and act. It is said that the narrower the language, the less evolved the thought patterns of people using the language. Remember Orwell's 1984?

Besides, we want crossword composers to have a wider field to choose from. We don't want the same words recycled in the grid!

How Can You Save Words?

  1. Sign-Up at Save The Words.
  2. Adopt from their list of endangered words. They have some wonderful-sounding ones: AEIPATHY (continued passion), DILORICATE (to rip open a sewn piece of clothing) and SPARSILE (of a star not belonging to any constellation) to name a few.
  3. Pledge to use your adopted word as often as you can: in emails, SMSes, in office presentations, in your blog title, wear in on your T-shirt or get it tattooed!
Lexicographers reinstate discarded words if such words are found being used again. WHEATGRASS is one such, which found its way back into the dictionary after missing from it for several years.

In return for adopting a word, you get this certificate:

save-the-words-certificate

You might also enjoy reading:

  • Hindi Words In UK Crosswords
  • "Computer" Words In Crosswords
  • Obama's Impact On The Crossword
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    2 comments

    Sridhar said...

    I am no communist as many of my friends want to label me. But there are many words in English which deserve to be killed! Of course there are some rarely used beautiful words which should be saved.
    Perhaps the language can become richer if a similar activity is undertaken to retain only one meaning to thousands of words that have more than one meaning and good alternatives are available for each meaning.

    Shuchi said...

    That's a thought, Sridhar. I would gladly kill all abuse words, foul language is a major put-off for me :)

    If words are shorn of multiple meanings, what would happen to cryptic clues? That is a move I wouldn't favour at all! The best wordplay centers around unexpected meanings of words, and I hope that can continue.