What's in a Word | All Blogs


Old English word is a keeper

By Debra Dobbins

I beg to differ. Normal people do use the word “fortnight.” Most of them just happen to live in Great Britain.

Fortnight is a contraction of the Old English words feowertyn niht, meaning 14 nights, according to Webster’s. (The Old English period ran from 450 to 1150 AD.) Webster’s also notes that those two words morphed to fourte(n) niht in Middle English (1150-1500). They eventually shrank into one compound word.

I don’t think fortnight should be expunged (deleted) from English. I also don’t think that pompous (in this case, stuck-up) people use the word. Educated people use the word, or at least recognize it when it is spoken and written.

Educated people know that others instantly judge them by the language they use. They also know that a good vocabulary helps them to think about complex issues. For example, it is impossible to solve a complex math problem if one has no clue what advanced math terms mean.

Words empower and enlighten us, day in and day out, fortnight after fortnight after fortnight ….

 


 

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