What Happened to My Language?


If you are of a ‘certain age’ like myself, you might have noticed that our language is changing, slowly but surely. Sometimes, when chatting with young people, I use words that they don’t understand. It’s not that they are uneducated or anything like that; its more that sometimes the words I’m using are not part of their vocabulary.

A couple of weeks ago my son had some friends over for his birthday. They were all sitting in the basement chatting and listening to music on someone’s Ipod. Yes, on that little tiny Ipod with the tinniest sound imaginable. It was on the coffee table and they were all huddled around it. Feeling sorry for them, I offered them my ghetto blaster and a connecting cord that would play the Ipod through it. It would give better sound, I told them, as well as more volume. After all, aren’t we all into volume?  They didn’t know what a ghetto blaster was. I mean, they were all at least 19 years old; are ghetto blasters so old that they were obsolete in their lifetime? (Maybe it’s me that is obsolete)  I brought out my ghetto blaster, connected it up and they listened to their music through my machine for the rest of the evening, amazed that such a dinosaur of a machine could produce good music.



And then the other day on Canada AM, they were talking about board games as being a fun way to spend an evening with family or friends. Jeff mentioned that the young people didn’t know what a board game was. Saywhatt? You know, you open a box and take out the board, unfold it, put out all the pieces and play according to the printed instructions, often written on the inside of the cover. Remember Monopoly, Sorry, Yahtzee, Clue and Snakes and Ladders? How about Balderdash, Risk, and Scrabble? I guess that in this day and age of technology, kids play alone on the computer, with cyber friends, not out of a box with friends and family they can see, and laugh with.


I remember a few years ago substitute teaching at an elementary school in Quebec. The children were excited about something or other and I had a hard time to get them working. So I said to them, “Why can’t you just obey?” The room became silent as I looked over their blank faces. One of them asked me what ‘obey’ was. So I explained that it meant ‘doing as you are told’. They had never heard of that word before.

Or was it not politically correct to use the word ‘obey’?

Do you know of any other terms that have become obsolete in your own lifetime?


Now the other day I was listening to the radio and they kept talking about a ‘Ted Talk’.  I’d really like to know what that is. I feel like I’ve been pwned.

What I Learned on the Way to Church

Most Sunday mornings find me driving to church between 9:30 and 10 AM. I usually listen to CBC Radio, and you could say that I’m getting an education on my way to church.


It used to be that on Sunday mornings all you would hear on the radio were either hymns sung by such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or the Catholic Mass, either in English or Latin.

Not any more!

Last Sunday on my little drive to church, I learned where the term ‘the bitter end’ came from. I always thought it had something to do with such exciting things as

the bitter end of a marriage or

the bitter end of a business or

the bitter end of a life unfulfilled.

Really, its nothing so exciting nor exotic as that.  The ‘bitter end’ is a nautical term denoting the cut end of a rope; as opposed to the working end, the looped end, the spliced end or the frayed end. So if you’re tying a knot with a length of rope, you’re working with one end of it, while the ‘bitter’ end is dangling.

bitter end

That’s what I learned on the way to church last Sunday.