The O.E.D. is coming face to face with the language's boundlessness.The universe of human discourse always has backwaters. The language spoken in one valley was a little different from the language of the next valley and so on. There are more valleys now than ever, but they are not so isolated. They find one another in chat rooms and on blogs. When they coin a word, anyone may hear.
The New York Times Magazine, November 5, 2006
Posted on November 7, 2006 at 5:56 AM
Our idea of boredom ennui, tedium, monotony, lassitude, mental doldrums has been a modern invention. The word boredom barely existed even a century ago. To bore meant, at first, something another person could do to you, specifically by speaking, too long, too rudely, and too irrelevantly. Boredom as silence, as emptiness, as time unfilled was such a mental state even possible? Samuel Johnson, in the 18th century, tried hard to believe it was not, for curious creatures such as ourselves. "To be born in ignorance with a capacity of knowledge," he wrote, "and to be placed in the midst of a world filled with variety, perpetually pressing upon the senses and irritating curiosity, is surely a sufficient security against" here no simple word came to his mind "the languishment of inattention."
Posted on November 5, 2003 at 6:20 PM