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8:30am Thursday 10th May 2012 in Letters
Sir – Two of your correspondents (Letters, May 3) seem unaware that language inevitably changes, whether we like it or not. So there is nothing unusual about the word ‘marriage’ expanding its meaning.
Dr Anthony Cheke refers to me as a lexicographer. Well, the first thing I learnt when compiling dictionaries is that language changes. Dr Cheke is disconcerted when he comes across the old use of ‘gay’ but the modern meaning (homosexual) is now well established in the language, and Dr Cheke’s letter actually uses it in this modern sense.
Samantha Mandrup quotes an out-of-date definition of ‘marriage’ from an Oxford Dictionary but the latest OED says that marriage “is now sometimes used with reference to long-term relationships between partners of the same sex”.
Brilliant used to mean glittering; silly originally meant deserving sympathy; a demagogue used to be a popular leader; meat used to describe any kind of food; broadcast meant to sow seeds, a knave was a boy, and bead meant a prayer.
Tony Augarde, Oxford