I was first alerted to this phenomenon by a post on The Byronic Man‘s blog earlier this week, where he informed us that Google have expanded their definition of the word “literal” to also mean “for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.” I was horrified. I did some further research and discovered that even our beloved Oxford English Dictionary has engaged in this travesty; according to them, literally can also mean metaphorically. That’s right people, the word “literally” can mean both “literally” and “not literally”.
My alarm bells started ringing. I wondered if this was an isolated example. It’s not. There are other words in circulation that have contrasting meanings. We’re aware of these words, they’re not new words, they’re not even new definitions, but have we ever realised the significance? I will come on to significance in a moment, but first some examples…
- “To dust” something means both to cover it in dust, or to remove dust.
- “To screen” means both to show something (like a film), or to hide something.
- “Bound” means both fastened in one place, and heading off somewhere.
- “Bolt” means both to fix firmly, and to rush away at speed.
The definitions for “Bound” and “Bolt” are in fact so similar to each other, that they could merge those two into one without any of us noticing, and we will then have one word to represent four meanings. Where will it end? I’ll tell you where it will end; in disaster. I’ve figured it out and it’s a conspiracy…
At the beginning of human-times (history isn’t my thing, so I just use my own descriptions), there were no words. I’m not sure when the very first word was, but over time the number of words grew and grew, and now the number of words are shrinking and shrinking. They are bringing two meanings into one word, and then getting rid of the now redundant words those meanings used to belong to. All the words and meanings are gradually merging. The words are becoming homogenous and it’s the beginning of the end.
They’re trying to sneak it through quietly but I’m on to them. They have a fancy name for words with contradictory meanings; contronyms. Well I care not for their fancy words. They may use the fact that contronyms are not a new thing as some kinds of justification, but all that means is that they’ve been planning this for a long time, and I’m not buying it.
I’m asking you all to keep alert. Be aware of this movement to reduce the number of words. We can no longer tolerate the cramming of several meanings into one word. In order to monitor the situation, we will all have to spend time counting words in dictionaries, and comparing that number to earlier versions. This counting must be done manually, we can’t trust what it says on the dictionary, or any automated counting systems; they’re all in on it. I want to see spreadsheets and algorithms and beer from you all.
It’s fairly obvious that their purpose is to turn us all into subservient beings who will eventually be unable to express any objection to what they are doing, as we will no longer have the vocabulary to do so. They will combine and reduce and combine and reduce the words until there is only one word left, and I’m pretty sure that word will be “Yes”. We need to say “No” while we still can.