Jul 23, 2010

Re-versioning 'revert'

I had previously written about my aversion for the reversion i.e. the use of 'revert' in e-mails to mean 'reply'. But the inevitable march of the very forces that make language fluid and nimble have had their first major victory in this matter. Linguist Ben Zimmer (he replaced William Safire in the New York Times' popular 'On Language' column) wrote on the topic, noting that this sense of the word has finally made it to a dictionary.

The 8th edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary notes the (still obnoxious) usage, marking it as having originated in Indian-English. We are seeing, at first-hand, an example of the mutation of language, and some part of me wants to celebrate that. So I suppose it is time to put the pitchforks down, but that doesn't mean a change in my conservative attitude. The likelihood of me embracing this word-meaning combination is the same as that of a Khap panchayat sending a gift certificate and greeting card to the latest set of Jat elopers.

Aren't you glad that the madmen of Indian villages didn't spent as much time protecting language?


Salil said...

Now can we start a movement for 'prepone'?

Unknown said...

We're so late on that, that we'll have to postpone this movement indefinitely :-)

Abhi T said...

what about updation and mailer (in the sense of an email sent out to a group).

Unknown said...

Abhi: all of them. I'm just recruiting troops for all-out war.