This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Thing Not To Do Today Unless You're A Cat, Probably: tree someone.

Language changes, of course it does. It needs to change. James Murray, the very learned first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, would be puzzled to tease out the meaning of a sentence involving the verbs sync, program, vlog or blog, but they're words we need, and so we must have them.

Hey, you know that new invention for losing weight?

What new invention?

Well, I can't tell you unless someone makes up a new word for it, can I?

But still, this doesn't mean that all new words are good ones, and some of the worst aren't even necessary. To podium is a particularly horrid example. It means to win a medal at a sporting occasion, and I expect before long people will be said to gold, to silver or to bronze

But still, from a personal point of view I can't say it's going to affect me much because I don't watch sport. Those new words may inflict a certain amount of agony on fans, but if you watch sport you're presumably in it for the agony: I mean, nearly everyone involved ends up with their dreams in tatters, don't they. 

That's why I don't watch it.

But to arrive (finally) at the verb tree. Mr Christopher Horne has written a letter to the Daily Telegraph which ends thus:

In 1970, as chairman of the highway planning committee of Hammersmith council, I was asked to approve a recommendation that Britannia Road be "closed, pedestrianised, treed and bollarded".

I declined.

Well, good for him, I say, but I note that there is something extra annoying about the word treed, which is that it already exists. To be treed by a stag is to be forced to take refuge up a tree from a fierce one. 

I don't know what Hammersmith was like in the 1970s: but if anyone was treed, I can't help hoping it was the highway planning committee.

Though not their gallant chairman.

Thing Not To Do Today Unless You're A Cat, Probably: tree someone. The word tree goes right back to the Greek word drus.

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