Here’s an interesting article about the word “slash” becoming a new modern conjunction word, as when people say the word to mean what its corresponding symbol means in writing, as in: “I think I’m going to watch TV slash take a nap.”

I have used the term myself, though not often, and I would never spell out the word in writing, such as in a blog/article.  (See?)  And when I say it, I prefer to physically slash the air with two fingers for gesticulatory emphasis.

Of course, we can quickly infinite loop the definition of “slash” by defining it as “and slash or” meaning “and and slash or or” meaning “and and and slash or or or” ad infinitum.

Anyway, it’s interesting to see how language evolves like this.  I’m always annoyed when people say “that’s not a word” as if only some select group of humanity has the ability to decide what is and isn’t a word.  There’s a fine argument to be made that just making up a word or changing a word’s definition without anyone’s consent will only hurt your chances of being understood when you try to communicate, but if the meaning is clear by the word’s context and the origins of the word’s roots, language can be completely gruptious.


LanthonyS · May 4, 2013 at 4:33 PM

In a Sunday school class I volunteer with, we had them doing an obstacle course where one kid was blindfolded and had to trust another to lead them by hand and voice. In one pair, the leading kid said, “Duck… okay, now unduck.” Just to confirm my intuition, I asked another kid after the class whether “unduck” is a word. What’s neat is that even though we all feel this would not appear in a dictionary and is not “a word”, we all understand it perfectly. (The kid who told me it wasn’t a word even suggested some synonyms for me.)

S P Hannifin · May 4, 2013 at 7:54 PM

I guess they learn the rule that putting “un” in front of a word means “opposite of” so we can put it in front of any verb. Like the rule that adding “-ed” makes something past tense, leading to childhood mistakes like “I woked up! I eated my breakfast! I rided the bus to school.”

It tells us a lot about how humans learn; it seems a rule is naturally taken to be universal until some new rule makes an exception.

Even more interesting because society has all these social definitions of what it means to be “intelligent” yet young children learn language innately, something we can’t program a computer do.

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