Wow – it’s been quite awhile since my last post! I’ve been decently distracted by two things: First, I became an uncle, and my newphew (new nephew) is freaking awesome. Second, I’ve been putting a bit more focus on finalizing requirements for the website, Wocky Words, where you’ll be able to submit and rank portmanteaux that you (and others) create, so that’s also been taking a good chunk of time. I’ll try to maintain a slow & steady posting frequency, but I definitely want to make sure I get Wocky Words up and running – I can’t wait until there’s a place for people to share word combinations, but I want the site to have plenty of funtionality (fun functionality) before going live.
Back to “business” – why combine? For me, it’s fun. I like doing it – and occasionally, it borders on creativity. I prefer to ask “Why not create a new word?” Usually, I don’t get many answers to this question, but recently I received one. A co-worker said to me – my kids are always coming home with new slang words – things with no legitimate meanings – and using them in daily life. She told me that her mother had taught her the English language properly, and expected her to use it properly. She, in turn, would teach & enforce proper English in her children. No child of hers would be saying ‘axe’ instead of ‘ask’, nor would they be writing ‘alot’ instead of ‘a lot.’
How could I blame this person for teaching her children well? I didn’t – I had to respect that. But next, she began to compare using word combinations to using slang or mispronunciations like ‘axe.’ Well – ‘alot’ would’ve been a better argument, since it’s at least (theoretically) a word combo. I’ve already blogged about my aversion to portmantignorance – if you will combine words, please do so out of creativity, fun, syllable-saving, or even pure cheesiness (as I often do), but do not create them because you thought they were a single word.
Aaaanyway, as I mentioned, I understand the desire to teach English according to Websters, but I also don’t believe English should be a stale language (stalanguage?). Perhaps becoming stale was the downfall of Latin? Who knows?? Certainly not me! But if you don’t believe me about the evolution of English (evolanguage?), ask our old friends Merriam and Webster, who add several words to the dictionary each year – including Staycation!
The moral here is – PLEASE teach your kids proper English – PLEASE teach them ‘a lot’ and ‘ask,’ if for no other reason than to help them get jobs and sound more eloquent. But also let them be creative, get outside the box, and appreciate Slanguage and the evolution of our words – and be sure to explain to them when it is and is not appropriate to use them.