When words die

Robert Fulford

When Slate magazine recently dropped “FWIW” in the middle of an article, as if those four letters were just another common word we should all know, I felt at once the need for immediate dictionary assistance.

Obviously, FWIW was an acronym of the kind that’s created online, as much for fun as for succinctness, some of the fun being the creation of language that pathetic senior citizens find inscrutable. So I made my way swiftly to acronymfinder.com and learned that Slate was saying “for what it’s worth.” Of course! I should have figured that out.

Later I was relieved to discover that while one of my digitally talented offspring has apparently been using it for years, another didn’t recognize it. People of a certain age like to check these sensitive points with someone younger, usually in the hope of discovering that we are not yet totally obsolete.

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David Hou

David Hou

“Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue … unless they remove the word ‘forsooth’ from the dictionary.” "Forsooth" will remain in good dictionaries for centuries, if only because it’s part of enduring masterpieces by great writers — such as Shakespeare’s King Lear — but its future as a way of expressing thoughts and ideas is non-existent.

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