We Must Obarmate Against the Loss of Words…To Let Them Go Would be Venalia

Adopt a word. Save our language.

Why save a word? Well, as the website savethewords.org argues, “90% of everything we write is communicated by only 7,000 words,” yet there are “old words, wise words, [and] hard-working words…that once led meaningful lives [but] now lie, unused, unloved, and unwanted.”

The site draws you in with a clever cacophony of sounds and a modernist canvass of labels and signs, each in different fonts, colors, and sizes. Hover over a word and it pipes up with pleas like “Choose me!” while the word next to it demands, “Yo, pick me!”

Click on a word, and you are invited to “adopt” it.  If you make the commitment, you “hereby promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the best of [your] ability.” Enter your username and password, and you are now the proud adoptive parent of a wayward word. After adopting, you are also encouraged to buy a t-shirt with your word of choice.

Savethewords.org is the brain-child of advertising executive Edward Ong. Ong’s agency, Young and Rubicam, based in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, was hired by the Oxford English Dictionary to promote the print version of its dictionary. Both the OED and Young and Rubicam hope that interest in the obscure words, not found in the online version of the OED, will promote sales of its traditional print version.

In an interview with National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Ong confessed to host Robert Siegel that they have been shocked by the popularity of the site: “The site kept crashing,” he said, “and we wondering: What in the world? We found that a lot of people have adopted it, a lot of bloggers have used it, a lot of people are talking about it.”

So, what are you waiting for? A periantique word just might give you cause for some good blateration at your next cocktail party.


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