Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Humph! Bumph!

Occasionally people like to take a word, beat it about the prefix, thrash it around the suffix, put its vowels through a strainer, cram its consonants through a mangler, and then use it like it is a completely different word, just to show it who's boss. "That's so random," said a girl on the train today to her friend. "Don't you think that's random?" "It was so random." Though, in fact, I strongly doubt she was referring to a thing that was 'without definite aim, purpose, or reason' or 'according to a pattern or method.' "It was surreal," said a footballer in a recent interview, referring to an event that was admittedly a little curious, but nevertheless clearly defined and bound by the conventional parameters of the sensuous universe. "That's so gay," said all teens everywhere at all times, in the process offering up a definition of the word that was neither "homosexual", nor "carefree", nor even referring to a person of that name.

In this process, a few words get hurt, a lot of people get irritated, and angry letters into the newspaper (or their modern day equivalent, the cantankerous blog post, the tetchy tweet, or the peevish Facebook note) are fomented on laptops and iPads all over the world. But it is doubtful whether the language is hurt at all. Just today, I learnt of a lovely new, resonant word, perfect for use in everyday conversation, useful for rhyming purposes, which will in all likelihood be around in English for a long, long time to come. "Bumph": junk, detritus, rubbish, especially the sort that you find on your computer. Now isn't that nice?

Then again, just the other day, I was listening to the football on the radio (I bet you never thought you'd hear me say that) when one of the announcers cried out in excitement: "It's a skirmish - that could develop into a melee!" Though whether one or the other nouns was true - and whether it really mattered - was rather debatable. It was, like, so random.


Fran said...

I think the word 'stuff' is one that gets over-used. People say, 'I went to the shops and stuff.' What?!

TimT said...

I used the word 'stuff' just this morning! I think I have the same disease!

Email: timhtrain - at -

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