letters

English language dynamic and constantly changing

Preference is one of those words whose meaning has changed.

English language dynamic and constantly changing

While I stress out this morning as the Americans decide to protect their Republic and Constitution, or turn into a Trump-based fascist state, I thought I would comment on the letter by April J. Gibson concerning language. She did write a thoughtful letter, even if I don’t agree about her conclusions that changes in language are arbitrary and don’t have society’s permission to change.

The English language is alive and very fluid, it changes and adapts quickly. Hundreds of new words are added to the dictionaries every year. Especially in this age of instant communications, words are added, dropped, and have meaning changing at a dizzying pace. But that is the power of the English language to adapt and to adopt foreign words.

It has always adapted. If you think English is a fossil language, try reading Chaucer in its original “English” form and you would think you were reading a foreign language.

I enjoy looking up the origins of words to see how they have started and how they have changed in meaning. Take the Old Norse word, husband. When wives must obey their husbands, that is saying wives must obey the person who lives in a dwelling and owns stock. We hardly would use the word today in its original meaning.

Or the word silly; one of its original meaning was someone who deserves pity. Example, someone who is silly might believe in QAnon and deserves pity for going full on dumb.

So yes, preference has become a four-letter word to some and a weapon by social conservatives who cannot grasp science and continue to hold on to the idea that gay people have a choice in their sexuality. Who the heck would choose to be gay given the discrimination that they endure?

Preference is one of those words whose meaning has changed. It wasn’t an arbitrary change, some conspiracy against social conservatives. It changed because society has adopted its new meaning when used in context of the gay community. Its original meanings are still in vogue as would be expected. The context when it is used is the deciding factor. There was no vote on its new meaning when used in context with discussions about gays, it evolved because that is what language does.

Heck, boy is an innocent word coming like so many of our words from Latin. Use that word in the Southern States and rightly get called a racist because in that context the word becomes derogatory and an insult.

English is not a fossil language. It is alive and dynamic which is its greatest strength.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that in the wrong context that preference isn’t a weaponized word is, frankly, silly in the original meaning of that word. Because in the context of the nomination of that reactionary female to the Supreme Court who puts scripture ahead of the Constitution, and who served on anti-gay school boards, the word preference is a trigger word and seen as derogatory. Will that word change in meaning depending on the context in the future? Of course it will. It is up to us to keep up.

Robert T. Rock

Mission City

Letters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Dear Sarah, the letter began. I hope you mail a note from… Continue reading

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Paula Foot narrates a collection of stories to appeal to the imaginations of the young and young at heart with a new album​ ‘Moments with Miss Paula: Stories for Fall and Winter’. (Submitted)
New album of stories from Cowichan storyteller offers children a world of magic

The stories will appeal to six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds

The VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders' games have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Isles victorious before league shutdown

The Kerry Park Islanders were able to sneak in one last game… Continue reading

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read