Friday, 23 January 2015

Changing Language

It occurs to me that it has been a long time since I heard certain "Canadian" words, like "Chesterfield" and "broadloom." These were new words to me when I first came to Canada 25 years ago and I heard them frequently. I don't know if Chesterfield was a person or a place -- I'd have to look it up -- but it sounds so much more interesting than "couch" or "sofa." Its name hints at history. And "broadloom" conjures up the clack and clatter of massive machines and Victorian-era child labour. It reminds you of the origin of the carpet and the work that went into it.

Words slip from the language when we're not looking. I suppose being Canadian is not defined by using words like Chesterfield...but maybe it is. What else are we losing without realizing it?

At the same time, new words are creeping into the language, things like "hashtag" -- an ugly word if there ever was one, and one whose origins I can't fathom -- and most have to do with technology. I guess it is inevitable that looms move out and electronics move in, and language has to reflect that, but it's still sad when you lose bits of your history.

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