“fifth column.” A “quisling.” From
“appeasement” to “Zionism,” new
words left an indelible imprint on our understanding of
the 20th century, the English language underwent constant
change as a host of new words entered the vocabulary.
new standard dictionary front cover.
Created/Published ca. 1920-ca. 1950.
Library of Congress.
in language aren’t mere curiosities. Rather, they reflect
fundamental changes in everyday life; new scientific discoveries;
technological innovations; new commercial products; shifting values;
changes in the life stages; and migration from abroad. In short,
language is an index to historical events, to social change, and
alterations in peoples’ understanding of themselves.
What do you think were the sources of the new words?
What do these new words tell us about the changes that have
taken place in American society and culture in the 20th century?