miconazole (miconazole) wrote in linguaphiles,
miconazole
miconazole
linguaphiles

Ways your language has changed in your lifetime

That post about feminine pronouns for objects got me thinking.

When I was a kid, I was taught that ships and countries were feminine, but when my history teacher did this in high school, it struck me as noticeably archaic. Gendered words like "policeman" and "fireman" were also the norm, but now "police officer" and "firefighter" sound more natural.

And in first grade, that thing you used to rub out pencil marks was a rubber. But these days it's definitely an eraser, and "rubber" makes me think of condoms. I think a friend called me on this in high school, when I asked to borrow her eraser and she replied "It's a rubber. We are not American." Nah mate, it's an eraser. Sorry. Likewise, parking lot, garbage, elevator, sweater, marker - not words I used when I was young, but I don't think twice about using them now.

I went to about 50 different primary schools (okay, so it was more like 4) in the 90s, and that thing where you sit in a circle and update the class on your life was always "news", but some kids I've talked to lately have indicated it's now "show and tell" at their school. Pfeh.

I also see people here in Australia use American spellings more and more. Not words like "colour" or "favourite" (I think we all had those spellings drilled pretty firmly into our heads as children), but donut, estrogen, encyclopedia, and so on. Personally, I welcome these changes, since I like tradition and all, but you still gotta admit the American way makes more sense. On a similar note, when I was a kid "alright" was absolutely wrong, and now it borders on acceptable.

So I started this post hoping to list some fascinating examples of how Australian English has evolved, but so far it seems to mostly be a list of American encroachments. Heh. Well, how has your language changed from how you remember it? I'd be especially interested to hear from speakers of non-English languages - have you felt the American influence too?~
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  • EUROPA, etymology

    "... Agenor, king of the Phoenician city of Sidon, had a beautiful daughter Europa, literally (in Greek) the "wide-eyed". In fact, of course, not…

  • Word 'Climax'. A note for aspiring etymologists.

    The English word climax has two seemingly incompatible meanings of "climax" and "orgasm". Yet, we should not forget that the word has not only a…

  • The extended etymology for Ego, Εγώ ( I )

    The Oxford Etymologic Dictionary (OED) considers Ego / I as if it were a self-standing word developed within the Germanic and 'Indo-European'…