New Words For Old

A good many people know of the story of Aladdin (Ala’ad-Din) and the magic lamp, which has as it’s pivotal point a street chant of “New lamps for old.”  It’s so well known that people often use the saying without bothering to explain anything about the significance of it.  It’s not impossible that such would be a fair trade or unfair otherwise, magic aside; but, both that and the claim that Aladdin’s tale isn’t really part of the Arabian Nights collection isn’t important here.  What’s important is the principle. 

In the story, the new lamp had no where near the value of the old one.  Most often something “new” is better than something “old” for several reasons.  Technological improvements is just one.  The old might be worn out is another.  But, new is not always better than old.  It can be an outright useless thing with something like words.  There are words used online – refined words – that simply do not work in everyday life.  Television, to many, is something watched, not “viewed,” even though people are “viewers.” 

“View,” and other now commonly used “sniffy” words, are strongly prompted by computers.  Sadly, it seems like some things have been lost.  “View” is an easy demonstration.  Today, everything is “viewed.”  Nothing is looked at or watched.  Will a baby-sitter be as effective if a child is “viewed” rather than “watched”?  Or, what about, “View the time!  You’re an hour late.”  In some places like old folks’ homes the speaker may not even be understood.  The resultant word loss just can’t be good. 

Old ideas aren’t all bad. 

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