3/14/2006

A Ginormous Post

It’s ginormous. I’m talking about the word itself. Everyone is using it these days. I’ve been seeing the word ginormous online for a long time now, but when I heard it on a radio advertisement I decided I just had to look into it.

For research purposes I did searches on several major engines. Google came up with ‘about 648,000’ and Yahoo had ‘about 545,000’, so apparently we’re taxing the limits of both. In order to get the local perspective I checked around to see if any Nashville bloggers were using it. Ginormous seems to be a favorite. The great Kleinheider used it at least once. It has showed up several times at Brittney’s site (though strangely, all the posts were in May or June of last year). The brilliant Jag used it just the other day. And it seems to be a favorite of Chris Wage both at his own site, and at the Nashville Metroblog. I even caught Sarcastro using it in the comment section of Thursday Night Fever.

Obviously it’s a combination of giant and enormous. The Wikipedia entry for ‘ginrmous’ names it as a neologism. Now, I was never an English major, so I had no idea what a neologism is. Psychiatric uses aside, it’s just a term for a new word. The Merriam Webster Dictionary doesn’t list it, but the folks at M-W did a survey of favorite words not in the dictionary, and our good friend ginormous came out on top.

This whole research (and I use that term lightly) experience was an interesting reflection on the affects of media on language usage. The further back in history you go, the more distinct languages and dialects there were in use. Even the same languages are distinctly different now, from what was common a thousand years ago. Reading Shakespeare illustrates that rather well.

Since the invention of the printing press and the move toward literacy, I think languages have been drifting closer together. Standard mass production of reading material that can be widely distributed goes a long way toward stabilizing a language. I suspect our language now will be a lot more recognizable to English speakers in 500 years than Shakespearean era English is to us now. And perhaps thousands of high school students will thank us for that down the road.

The internet is well on the way to making this a global trend. I suspect over the long haul that languages with only a small population of speakers will start to fall by the wayside as less people are interested in using them because they can’t find the information and entertainment they need in their native language. I don’t really ever foresee a universal world language, but I expect that a lot of dialects will die out.

This post has been a surprise for me. I started out merely intending to comment on how some words like ginormous, blog, and Google were creeping into everyday usage thanks to the internet and somehow ended up with one world language. I guess that’s the joy of blogging. You never know where you’ll end up.

Irregardless, I’d like to see Tim’s ginormous thoughts. Once it gets used on Mother Tongue Annoyances, it moves from a neologism to a real word in my book.

2 Comments:

Blogger DB Carden said...

Speaking of neologisms, how about 'irregardless' at the end of your post....a combo of irrespective and regardless. Very sweet.

1:41 PM, March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Tim W. said...

Gee, thanks for saying that, W. :)

You know, I like the slang adjective ginormous. And believe it or not, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word has been around in contempoary English usage since at least 1948.

I'm going to write on this in my blog. Thanks!

Tim

11:07 AM, March 16, 2006  

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