Because Useful

In somewhat weird news, the American Dialect Society has chosen “because” as its word of the year. This is not, of course, a new word – but it took on different shades of meaning in 2013, the New York Times reports on its Arts blog:

Ben Zimmer, chairman of the dialect society’s new words committee, explained that casual online usage had transformed “because.”

“No longer does ‘because’ have to be followed by of or a full clause,” he said in a statement. “Now one often sees tersely worded rationales like ‘because science’ or ‘because reasons.’ You might not go to a party ‘because tired.’ As one supporter put it, ‘because’ should be word of the year ‘because useful!’ ”

You can read the whole thing here. I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by the way our language usage changes and morphs, and has over time or even over regions (one of the oddest things I ever discovered was that at least some regions in Canada say things like “I’m done the book” rather than “I’m done with the book,” which is the usage I’m familiar with). One of my favorite essays on this is “Authority and American Usage,” by David Foster Wallace.

How else do you see language changing?


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