The Norman Transcript


November 2, 2012


NORMAN — Unlike Latin, English is a living language, which means the meaning of words change over time.

Since education also has “evolved,” fewer people study Latin. Unless your profession requires the use of Latin, like priests and lawyers, or you translate scholarly works from Latin to Lebanese or some other current language, you may be part of the crowd happy in the knowledge that Latin is a dead language.

I wish it had remained dead during my formative years because my parents spoke fluent Latin. You know the “little pitchers have big ears” mindset. Naturally, I felt compelled to outsmart them and took Latin in high school and college. It was hard work, but came in handy when I studied other romance languages such as French or Italian.

Then my parents switched to German because by then my German was rusty. I was “cursed” with smart parents.

In English, seemingly simple words such as “bomb” which traditionally was applied to a missile that blew things up can now mean “awesome,” “cool” or “I messed up.” Imagine having someone tell you “You da bomb.” If you aren’t familiar with the current meaning, you might frown and wonder if you had a flatulent moment and unknowingly stunk up the place.

In his toddler years, my youngest brother owned a toy school bus and the sign on the side read “The Gay Little School Bus.” Clearly, that adjective has evolved to mean something other than just “happy.”

Let’s examine the word “spam.” Not too long ago, the word referred to a food staple that not only has an almost cult-like following, but includes cook-off competitions and other spam related contests. This canned product is a combination of meat and ham, hence the work “spam.” It is one of those versatile you love it or hate it foods.

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