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Friday, October 08, 2010

It ain't hard to define

Well, it's been kinda bleak around these parts lately. Time for some fun! And what's more fun than blaming Rick Springfield for things?

My point: the word "moot".

I don't know who to blame for the degeneration of this word's meaning in the English language, so I am blaming its most visible user. In the inimitable (unless you're Cory Monteith) "Jessie's Girl" (the title of that being a WHOLE nother post), Springfield sings the line "I wanna tell her that I love her/But the point is probably moot".

And linguists everywhere cringed. In all likelihood, the origin of this meaning of the term is much older than the 1980s, but I hate this line of "Jessie's Girl" so much that I just can't stand it. THAT ISN'T WHAT IT MEANS, RICK. I understand that there are not many rhymes for "cute", and that the 90s-popular pronunciation of "slut" as "sloot" hadn't happened yet, but come on. "Moot" stems from the Old English (or Old Frankish, depending on who you're talking to) mot and its related term gemot, meaning "meeting". You can see this word in its real function in the term "witenagemot" and J.K. Rowling's awesome appropriation, Wizengamot!

(you can trust me. I read Beowulf in the Old English!)

So when did the word "moot" stop meaning "a point to be discussed" and start meaning "a point not worth discussion"? You are welcome to chase after its etymology. Per usual, I am content to just blame a poofy 80s pop singer.

In the event that this wasn't QUITE fun enough for you, check out DR SHE BLOGGO's awesome and very scientific infographic and have an excellent weekend.

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