Language changes with time despite the fact that purists would insist on the conventional structures and archaic vocabulary. There is this joke about St Peter. Keeping vigil at the gates of Heaven as usual, he heard a knock on the door.
“Who goes there?” he asked.
“It is I,” the voice outside replied.
“Oh no!” St Peter groaned,. “Not another English teacher!”
People have been saying, “It’s me,” for so long that it is generally accepted and no longer considered as being grammatically incorrect, though some people (English teachers?) may not agree.
In the same way, some words seem to have acquired new meanings along that way. In the past, if a person remained “cool“, he was calm, or the word was used to describe the temperature in the vicinity. Today, if I say, “He’s cool!”, he is probably nice, interesting, fashionable, trendy or something along those lines. During my time, we used the word “groovy” – a word that evolved during the hippie/flower power era in the 70s.
Besides, some words have frequently been abused to the extent that one would have to use them with caution for out of context, they may bring to mind some not-very-desirable connotations. Thus when Little Red Riding Hood said, “What big teeth/jaws you have, grandma!” and the wolf replied, “All the better to EAT you with,” the meaning conjured in some individuals’ minds may be different from what is originally intended. So when Bongkersz was in town, I was careful enough not ask to him, “Now, what would YOU like to EAT???” Instead, I suggested, “Would you like some Foochow fried noodles with freshwater prawns for breakfast?” Phew! That was close! ROTFLMAO!!!
I remember when the tiny sultanate attained independence from British colonial rule, the headline on the front page of a local newspaper read: “Brunei goes gay!!!” Of course, the reference was to the happy, joyous celebrations held at the time but today, the word has been associated with something totally different. And when someone talks about the Queen of England, one can never be sure whether he means Elizabeth the 2nd or Sir Elton John, and likewise, if you tell people you are going to a fancy dress party as a fairy, one will wonder if you have a magic wand in hand…or you have a fetish for one! Catch the drift?
And those of you who love croaking, oops…I mean, karaoke-ing, especially if you are a guy and love the Carpenters (Yup! Cibol and gang! Bet you all know one such person? LOL!), avoid “Jambalaya” at all cost, as the lyrics go:
“Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be GAY-o! Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou!”
P.S.: And you can ask your Foochow-speaking friend what “Ba-You” means in the dialect. LOL!!!