I love my friend’s description of what happened, and even understand the “nice” at the end. Of course she wasn’t in the least excited about what had just happened, in fact, she was completely annoyed, and rightly so, given the circumstances. Have you ever thought about the English language? In a word, it’s complex! In two words, very complex! I heard once that English might be the most difficult language to learn because of how differently we use the same words.
Words seem to travel. They move from country to country, are added and subtracted to, combined with other words, and even created. Other times they mutate into words from their original meaning into something completely different. Tim McGraw, in his country music hit years ago, “Remember When?” kind of brought that to the forefront.
Tim McGraw focused on words like coke, crack and hoe, among others. Fifty years ago when a person was talking about having “coke,” he was talking about the sweet, carbonated drink. Today, while still a drink, coke is also a horrible, debilitating, illegal drug.
According to the dictionary, the word nice means to be agreeable, pleasant, some would even say kind. In the thirteenth century the word nice actually meant a foolish or simple person! In the early 1600’s it meant behavior that encouraged wantonness; and by the late 1600’s it had changed yet again to mean a wicked person! It continued to change and at different time periods meant extravagant, elegant, strange, modest, thin and for a time, even shy!
Other words that have morphed over time includes: awful which once meant deserving awe; brave once meant cowardice (like “bravado”); girl meant a young person of either sex; guess meant to take aim; nuisance was to bring injury or harm and quick meant to be alive!
I guess you could say, “So what? Words change! Who cares?" And maybe it is a small thing, but for a moment think of words like frosty, revenge or brunch. Perhaps in fifty years or so, words common to us now may mean something completely different.
There isn’t really anything wrong with this, I guess, everything changes. I have to admit, however, to see how words change just really drives home how nothing ever stays the same. Just hearing my friend use the word "nice" the way she did, made me reflective. We are born, grow to become school children, teenagers and then adults. Our own children look at us as though we’ve lost our minds when we reminisce on the past. A song brings back a memory, a hair style, or clothes fashion, a time when things at least seemed, "better." It seems every generation is unique; and that’s as it should be….so long as we don’t forget our past or disrespect it.
Share your thoughts. Am I the only one who reflects this way?