Introducing Language in Use: a Coursebook
Fun with Language
Old Words, New Meanings
On BBC Radio 4, there is a very popular panel game programme called ‘I'm sorry, I haven't a clue’. One of the games in this programme involves asking the panellists to invent new meanings for old words. This game has been very successful and some of the contributions to the radio show have been published in The Uxbridge Dictionary of English.
You could try this game with linguistic jargon. For example:
- phoneme might be an instruction to ring the speaker (divide the two syllables in a different place)
- phonemic might be an instruction to ring Michael (convert the three-syllable word into a two-syllable word)
- recursion might be the act of cursing for a second time (think of the meaning of the morphemes)
Now see what you could make of:
Of course, this is really only any fun if you know the linguistic meaning of the word in the first place.
Linguistic points for consideration:
- words can be divided into morphemes in relation to meaning but there is often more than one way to divide a word
- words or morphemes that sound the same do not necessarily have the same meaning