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OT: "Novelty" and language

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

"Novelty" just means anything new.  It doesn't have to be unique or
different.  When my family used to run a gift shop, we were always getting
ads from companies that proposed to sell us "new novelties."  By them,
"novelties" were little joke items (often quite rude) that sold at retail
at low prices--a new kind of hand-buzzer would be a "new novelty."  Perhaps
stemming from this usage, the word now has a connotation of something
different or unusual.

Another example of how our language evolves!

PS--my grandmother used to refer to tragic events as "terrific"--a correct
use of the word (productive of terror), and got odd looks from us kids, who
used the word in quite a different way!

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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