Monday, September 29, 2008

you forgot poland

It's nice to see Urban Dictionary getting the props it deserves:

This is a place we see people logging on in their lunch hours and delighting in playing with words, it is a snapshot of culture in flux, looking to understand itself through language. As the banner on the site proudly boasts: 3,256,400 definitions submitted since 1999. It is hard not to delight in the fact so many people are thinking deeply and comically about language and its ever-evolving properties. It's also a forum for cultural exchange where we get a glimpse into what other Anglophone nations are doing with the language. Here, my favourite has to be the US "acoustic shave" - "the act of shaving with razor; not an electric shave".

It's a thrill to be present at the birth of words and witness the first stage in the evolution of neologisms. As Wikipedia will tell you these are in fact "protologisms", unstable words being used by a small subculture which will pass through the course of their working lives to "diffused", "stable", "dated", and eventually arrive at that elephant's graveyard of language, "pass̩"Рa pretty obsolete word culturally itself. But as a poet, following Auden's example, here can be just as fruitful a place to look for inspiration.