The AUTO- age

How readily someone may be understood when using a new word will depend on several factors: the intuitable transparency of meaning, its clarity in context, the receptiveness of the audience, and so
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How readily someone may be understood when using a new word will depend on several factors: the intuitable transparency of meaning, its clarity in context, the receptiveness of the audience, and so on. It’s scarcely surprising, then, that coiners or early adopters of new terminology often exhibit a certain hesitancy. Among the early evidence cited by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for any particular word, it’s not uncommon to find quotations which deliberately refer to the use of the word in question, or contain some knowing, self-conscious mention of it. In them, an author might declare his or her own coinage (as, for example, at Americanism n.) or, ironically, protest against a form or usage considered to be barbarously incorrect. But the tone is more usually tentative, enquiring about a word’s legitimacy or fitness for purpose, as with the first recorded instance of autobiography n., in 1797: Self-biography.. We are doubtful whether the latter word be legitimate: it is not. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Linguistics

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