The power of the written word
01 Sep 21
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Professor George E Holmes DL | President & Vice Chancellor
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Categories: English and Creative Writing, Undergradute
Language is dynamic and ever-changing. Words come in and out of fashion and change meaning all the time. Language is a measure of society as much as it is a form of communication. Words, not just names, have power and influence on how we perceive the world. Every year new words are added to the English language and some actually make it into the dictionary as they become considered part of every day vocabulary.
Does an English Major Decide on Dictionary Entries?
When words enter our society and the general population using them regularly, they are added to dictionaries at editors and researchers' discretion. At the same time, they remove words that have fallen out of use. Merriam-Webster added over 500 words to its dictionary this year. Do you know any or the meaning of any of them?
It is not always clear where words come from or how they entered general usage. However, words like Covid-19 have a precise etymology. The pandemic saw words like bubble, pod, long-hauler, and wet market enter the wider consciousness. The words themselves are not new, but the meanings now associated with them are specific to the current world climate.
The digital age forever changed how we communicate and has imparted new words since its inception. Wi-Fi didn't exist a generation ago, and hot spot and dark web had very different meanings. More recent additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary include reaction GIF, hard pass, performative, @, flex and cancel culture.
The past year has seen a surge in home working and remote learning for everything from primary school to BA English degrees. Language has developed to accommodate this and the move towards the gig economy. New words that reflect this changing work dynamic include makerspace, co-working, gig worker and crowdfunding.
Comfort, care and compassion may have felt in harder to come by over the last year, but that hasn't stopped us from creating new words to define our need for such sensations. ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is just one abbreviation that made it into the new Merriam-Webster dictionary, along with hygge (a cosy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable).
This year also brought us murder hornets on the one hand and, more positively, the term second Gentleman to describe the role held by Douglas Craig Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris. While the Merriam-Webster dictionary deals primarily with American terms, language does not recognise international borders, and many of these words are already in general use in the UK.
If you are looking for a university that gives you a hygge feeling and offers the best English and Creative Writing courses, look no further than the University of Bolton. We have ranked No. 1 for Student Satisfaction for the past three years.* Want to learn more about our Creative Writing degree? Get in touch today.
Why add the University of Bolton to your lexicon?
Words on their own have little meaning. It is not until they are used in context, joined together to express ideas, give hope, provide reassurance, shape our futures, then they have the power to change lives.
Understanding the power behind words and how to utilise that power are two things you will learn by studying English and Creative Writing courses at the University of Bolton. Our courses are taught by experts in their fields who create positive and supportive learning environments for all our students.
We take pride in putting our students first and enabling you to enjoy #UniAsItShouldBe.
If you have questions relating to funding, finance, wellbeing, accommodation, or disability support or award-winning Student Services Team are here to help.
*The Complete University Guide – North West Region 2019, 2020, 2021
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