Sunday, 23 November 2014

Words And Meanings

Because the plot of Poul Anderson's "A Tragedy of Errors" will turn on words changing their meanings, the point is made throughout the story.


"awful" meant "awesome;"
"pompous" meant "stately;"
"artificial" meant "ingeniously conceived."

Future historically:

for some, "rogue planet" has come to mean not a sunless planet but one with an unusual composition or orbit;
they instead call sunless planets "bandit planets;"
when a scientific culture is lost, any surviving scientific knowledge is reclassified as a classical art and "Engineer" becomes the title of a feudal lord;
one group refers to "nukes," another to "tommics;"
a Nikean deduces from context that "to spot" means "to espy;"
a "cave" turns out to be a castle;
because of a tragic use of irony on a single past occasion, "friends come to do business" is now understood to mean "enemies about to attack" - the acceptable phrase has become instead "camarados come to 'change."

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