Hello, friends, and welcome to Sciency Words! Sciency Words is a special series here on Planet Pailly where we take a closer look at science or science-related terminology. Today’s Sciency Word is:
As you might imagine based on this Sciency Words series, as well as other things I’ve written, I love language. I enjoy learning about why language works, why it sometimes does not work, and all the processes by which language changes over time.
One of my favorite linguists is Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan. She’s written books and articles about language. She hosts a radio show about language, and she’s a member of the American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel. She did a wonderful TED Talk called “What Makes a Word ‘Real’?” and her Great Courses series “The Secret Life of Words” is one of my favorite things to listen to on long drives.
Curzan often talks about how people like to play with language. Some might dismiss such playfulness as slang, but really it’s a natural aspect of language usage. And so when a friend recently introduced me to the word “covidiot,” I immediately thought of the things Curzan has said. Here are people being playful with a scientific term, and I love that!
Now normally in these Sciency Words posts, I’d tell you the definition and etymology of the term we’re talking about. I don’t think that’s necessary in this case. It’s pretty obvious what “covidiot” means and where the word came from. The only thing I want to say about covidiots is this: please don’t be one.
Next time on Planet Pailly, I’ll have a very strange weather forecast for you.