Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Words and Usage


This morning I was reading Fast Company, having cereal and coffee, and glancing from time to time to the mute television screen. Maybe it was just a morning for surprises. There on the screen advertising Buick automobiles was an elderly woman, a real old woman as opposed to the fiftiesh “elderly” people with dyed gray hair who appear on most commercials for senior living, etc. It was such a shock I was tempted to go out and buy a Buick (but I’m too partial to Nissan).

Anyway, the article I was reading brought to mind the changes in our language. The digital revolution has brought about a vocabulary revolution. Take a look at the terms a person such as John Kennedy (or Albert Einstein) wouldn’t have understood: website, internet, email, pixel, Twitter, app, infomercial, artificial intelligence—and that’s just a smattering I selected from the pages of Fast Company.

Actually, a sentence in the latest issue caught my attention. Jake Katz of the TV network Revolt was quoted saying, “And now people are looking at things that are trending, whether it’s on Twitter or elsewhere on social, and they just grab them and commoditize the shit out of them.”

 From Selfies to Commodify
The previous sentence is from a feature on selfies (another word entering our dictionary). The transforming of the word commodity to commoditize gives the concept greater flexibility, and I hadn’t seen it used in this way. The dictionary tells me the verb form is commodify (fies), and it offers a short cut for saying something that’s not easy to express verbally.

Katz also used the shortened social to carry the meaning of social media. Maybe that is common usage, but I wasn’t aware of it. The word trend is a ubiquitous noun, but here it stands out as a verb, and like commodify it simplifies communication.


While I was scrolling my file of graphics, I came upon another photo of a cotton press, this one left to ruin. 

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