Let’s Jargogle All Those Darn Malagrugs

One of the reasons English has become the dominant international language is that – unlike French – it’s extremely flexible and adaptable.

It’s a magpie language: snatching bright, shiny new words from all manner of sources, from words related to new technologies to words pinched from other, unrelated languages.There are all kinds of statistics out there but it’s estimated that the English language now contains anything from around 450,000 to almost 1 million words, although this would include all the derivations formed from individual headwords and a huge number of technical terms.

It’s also said Shakespeare used about 30,000 words in his works, while a study quoted by the BBC said that The Sun newspaper contains an average of around 8,000! (Dumbing down, what’s that?)

Personally, I love words… well, being a writer, I would, wouldn’t I? We have such a wealth of words and expressions that trip off the tongue (and bamboozle non-native speakers). Some words just sound wonderful: ‘mellifluous’ and ‘rowlocks’ are too personal favourites.

I love words for their diversity and their sound and when I know a good word it can be hard to resist using it; I still remember being laughed at by a friend for using ‘fractious’ down the pub. There are also words that don’t exist but should. A student of mine once used the word ‘diseducate’ – made perfect sense the way that she used it.

But while English is adept at absorbing the new words to which we take a fancy, what about the ones that fall by the wayside? Thanks to the iAuthor Facebook page I came across the excellent post below about obsolete English words that should make a comeback.

Although I’m often in a bit of a ‘widdendream’ there’s something ‘illecebrous’ about some of these old words. My mission now is to work ‘jargogle’ and ‘malagrug’ into my next novel…

I hope this isn’t all just more ‘perrisology’ but do click on the link below if you want to make sense of my ramblings!

20 obsolete English words that should make a comeback

DURING MY UNDERGRADUATE studies as a Linguistics major, one of the things that struck me most is the amazing fluidity of language. New words are created; older words go out of style. Words can change meaning over time, vowel…


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