Still, make sure the language really has changed
A followup to December 10’s post
In my December 10 post I argued for learning to live with the dynamic nature of language. The correct meaning and use of a word are determined by how a sufficient number of people use that word today, regardless of limits under which it may have functioned yesteryear.
But let’s not be absurd. If you out-and-out misuse a word, you cannot hide behind the dynamic nature of language. In my college days, my roommate insisted that transvestite referred to a person who had undergone a sex change. When I settled the matter with an appeal to the dictionary, along with a look at the etymology of the root word vest, he could not bring himself to concede. “OK,” he said, “but that’s changing.”
In the above-referenced post I took care to note, “It still matters whether you use affect or effect, discrete or discreet, compliment or complement, and their or there or they’re.”