Podsnappery

Podsnappery (n).

Yep. It’s a real word. Not much in vogue these days, but big back in Victorian England and still in the dictionary. Supposedly linked to a character from Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend, a Mr. Podsnap, who lived in a state of blissful denial completely unsullied by unpleasant facts, and thus raised a child who grew up with absolutely no understanding of what the world was really like outside her home, and met it unprepared. I think this word is overdue for renewal, seeing as how so many of my fellow citizens seem to be living under its influence, and nothing else serves so well. “Ignorance” and “denial” come close, but neither does the full job.

English as a language is like that, he said, which should be perfectly obvious to anyone paying attention. We invent new words, borrow new words, and the language evolves. Anyone who doubts that, remember the prologue to the Canterbury Tales? That was proper English, once. Now the average English speaker can still sort out what it means, but only to a certain degree of accuracy. Words drop out of use, or gain new usages over time. “Gay” used to mean one thing, and not very long ago. Now it means something else. People stopped arguing over the difference between “affect” and “effect” and simply borrowed “impact” to mean what they used to mean by “affect.” Can’t say I’m in favor, since “impact” still means “hit” so far as I’m concerned, and being hit does affect you, true, and often effects a change, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. Still, I admit the war is over on that one and I think English lost. Some battles are still being fought, however. For instance, do not attempt to use “irregardless” as a real word around First Reader. She will pin your ears back.

It’s right and proper that new words meet some resistance. They need to be tested and proven before they join the language. Regardless, new words enter usage all the time, sometimes driven by technology (how long before “lol” or “afaik” is accepted spoken usage?), sometimes by necessity, as in “We need a word for that!” whatever that may be. I’m in favor of an import from Japanese, “aware.” No, not “ah-ware” but “ah wa re,” the concept that a transient thing is beautiful, not necessarily because it is pleasing to the eye (though it may be), but also because it is ephemeral and will not last. Like a sunset, or a flower in full bloom, or the turn of a leaf in autumn. Fleeting. I’m not holding my breath or anything, but just putting it out there. It’s a favorite word of mine and I’d love to see it come into English usage, but I know the odds are long.

After all, to think otherwise is to be a tad podsnappy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s