The life of words. Why do they disappear? What is the cause?
“Words are living things: they are born, they live and they die. Some enjoy a long life, but others disappear over time when whatever they refer to ceases to exist or because other words replace them.”
Mercè Lorente, Doctor of Catalan Philology, a lecturer on the IDEC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra Master’s in Terminology online course and Director of the University Institute for Applied Linguistics at Pompeu Fabra University, reveals the factors that can cause previously commonplace words to disappear, for one reason or another.
In her article there are also comments from well-known linguists, translators and lexicographers, including Alberto Gómez Font, Director of the Cervantes Institute in Rabat, lexicographer José Martínez de Sousa, and translator and crossword compiler, Pau Vidal, who reveal their “theories” on why words disappear, the causes behind it and the words that replace them.
Mercè Lorente closes her article with the comment: “Many efforts are made to try and preserve the richness of a language’s vocabulary and to make its speakers aware of their responsibility as users of that language. However, no matter how many books are published, only people’s linguistic awareness can stop words from dying out, and this is something that’s within our reach.”
Mercè Lorente has a PhD in Catalan Philology (1994) from the University of Barcelona and is a tenured lecturer at the UPF’s Department of Translation and Language Sciences. A specialist in vocabulary, terminology and phraseology, she is the current Director of the University Institute for Applied Linguistics (IULA). Furthermore, she has conducted various research projects on terminology and information retrieval (RICOTERM series) and is editor-in-chief at Terminàlia, the Catalan Terminology Society’s journal. She is also a member of IULATERM, the IULA research group.