The English language is a very peculiar thing.
Aside for the delightful thoughts concerning who was the genius who came up with the idea of making abbreviation such a long word?, and why is it dyslexia is such a difficult word to spell?, it occurred to me that in so many ways, the number of words needed has clearly outstripped the imagination of those making them up.
When I write anything, when we all do, there’s always the opportunity to stumble across words which sound the same but are spelled very differently. We always have to remain vigilant to the risk that the homophone represents.
The classic that pops up at the back end of the year is slay and sleigh. Two words which are so utterly apart from each others meanings yet happily become interchangeable when you just consider the sound. I would have loved to have been in the room when the decision was made that those two very different things should effectively be called the same thing.
Navel gazing is very different from naval gazing. Talking about the profit rather than the prophet of a religion changes the tone just a bit and a slow gin would be an exercise in frustration over the sloe gin.
But each and every language isn’t a closed system which remains the same regardless of any external contact. New words enter our vocabulary all of the time and have done so all the way through history in exactly the same way some of our words will have been picked up by others. It’s more than possible that a word for one thing comes from one language and the same word could mean something different in another. Put them together as we all melt together in the linguistic pot and you find yourself where we are now.
Words are a massive way that we as a species are able to communicate. Having the same words crop up in different languages just means that we all ultimately have a very similar way of creating sounds to get our point across. As societies continue to blend and mix it’s only likely that more and more words and phrases take up shared residence with different meanings.
It’s going to be interesting seeing things evolve.
‘Ewe reap watt ewe so.’
‘Eye knead ewe.’
‘Weigh two go.’
Should be fun!