New Meanings

A few months ago I was aghast at a sacrilege committed on Facebook. Someone had posted a photo that was too good to be true. A lady asked the question: “Has it been shopped?”

For those of you who do not know, Photoshop is a popular photo editing program. To say that a photo has been “photoshopped” is to say that it has been altered. But this woman had reduced “photoshopped” to “shopped”.

Perhaps the retail world is still reeling from the shock of having a woman used the verb “shop” with the wrong meaning! I mean, what is this world coming to? Ladies everywhere should be rising up in protest or protect the purity of that word!

The thing is, words change meaning all the time, sometimes quite radically and occasionally in a short space of time. Will “shopped” become standard for altering photos? Is it slang that is here to stay? In spite of all the effort that our brave English teachers put into nailing English down, it just keeps slipping around. But they are not to blame. It is in the nature of language to change. Every language changes.

So new translations of the Bible are needed. It was completely understandable in the days of King James to talk about “the quick and the dead”, whereas now that phrase conjures images of the success and failure of pedestrians dealing with streets busy with cars.

Just about the time the beleaguered translator thinks he is done, the people speaking the language go and change the meanings of some of the words. Here in Ghana, the Bible Society has just published revisions of two translations first done in the mid 1800s, in the Twi and the Ewe languages. At least one of them had been revised at least once before.

If you liked this, you might also like No Hard Knocks, Stools and Skins or Teach them English.

2 thoughts on “New Meanings

  1. Pingback: Words | Heart Language Observations

  2. Pingback: Ghanaisms | Heart Language Observations

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