Is the English Language Lazy?

Multiple meaning words spread throughout the English language reeking havoc on the substance of sentences.

Homographs, or words that are spelled the same but have different meanings, may or may not have different pronunciations, which adds even more madness to the mayhem.

Are English speakers just too lazy to invent new words, and if not, why do we settle on saying the same thing for different purposes?

Actually, we haven’t stopped inventing new words, and it is estimated that about 25,000 words are added to the language each year.

In fact, the English language may have more words than any other language. Putting an exact number on the amount of words is difficult, but the Oxford English Dictionary includes over 600,000 definitions.

Not including the various parts of speech and other variations, there are about 175,000 words in current use and about 50,000 obsolete words.

Words with multiple meanings are also not just an English phenomenon, as all languages have multiple meaning words, and many of the tonal languages such as Thai use multiple meaning words extensively by varying the meaning of the word through the tone of the pronunciation.

However, you’d think with all of the new words being invented each year and the vast vocabulary of the English language that we would eliminate some of these multiple meaning words.

I don’t mean to be mean, but let’s consider the irony of some homographs.

Hippies long to wear long overalls and burn incense, but problems never incense their overall mood.

Living in the present is no minute present after you die, but rolling the die each minute is easy when you’re young and not worried about making a living.

It’s easy to spot the point of this article, but difficult to point to the spot where the point was made.

With so much confusion caused by these forged double meaning words, it’s time we forged ahead with inventing some new words for the English language.

If we can’t agree on new words to replace the most common homographs, let’s just eliminate using either of their meanings altogether.

For instance, I propose that we eliminate the word console by putting our electronic equipment on a shelf and comforting our loved ones in times of crisis.

In addition, instead of desert, I suggest we simply abandon our dreams and ambitions and refer to an endless beach with no surf, where you obviously won’t be able to surf, but at least you’ll know where you stand.

Homographs may have their place in the English language, but that place seems to be molded by deceit and confusion, and it’s time to disregard the laziness of our English-speaking predecessors.

Double meaning words, homographs, or indolent sloths, whatever you choose to call words with double meanings, can only cause confusion in a world that is becoming ever more specific in its communications while at the same time less detailed in its meaning.

Originally published by The MAG Zine.


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