Monday, November 5, 2007

There must be a grillion ways to say grillion.

I am a linguist by temperament, if not by training, and I am forever reminding people that language is a living, changing entity. If I am able to communicate my ideas, then language is fulfilling its role. There's no need to run around a la Chicken Little bemoaning the Decline of Grammar as the First Sign of the Impending Fall of Civilization.

Then last night, the acorn dropped on my head. Settle down, Goosey Loosey! I'm getting to the point. I was watching some trashy tv - if you must know, Turkey Lurkey, it was an episode of Men in Trees. The main character used the word "grillion" in a hyperbolic statement. I enjoy a bit of hyperbole now and then and I generally have little problem with words bastardized for effect. However, the whole -illion thing is getting completely out of hand. We have million, billion, jillion, kajillion (which I admit using on occasion), zillion, squillion, and now grillion. If there are fifty ways to leave your lover, can we not at least come up with ten ways to express "lots" without resorting to -illion? A plethora, hordes, many, scores, countless, masses, need I go on?

Ducky Lucky et al., our collective vocabulary is collapsing! We cannot go to tell the King because, well, we overthrew him a couple hundred years ago. I'm pretty sure the President has priorities other than our ever diminishing vocabulary. So who to tell? Everyone! If we don't spread the word about words, we shall find ourselves limited to grunts, gestures, and l33t by the end of the century. It's up to us, fearless barnyard poultry, to save the language. Grillions of precious words are depending on us for their survival.


Mary Witzl said...

I agree: if you've got to make up words, at least be creative about it. I have a horrible vision of the world in fifty years time. People will sit around at breakfast time glancing at gigantic TV screens as they slurp their concoctions of fat, salt and sugar. They will communicate by cell phone and, when absolutely necessary, through a series of grunts and rude gestures, just as you describe.

Katie Alender said...

Mary, there's a movie about this vision of yours called Idiocracy. Not as funny as it could have been but the portrayal of the potential future is fairly spot-on with your diagnosis.

cheribear said...

Why anyone would use 'grillion' when 'bazillion' or 'kazillion' are available, is beyond me.

I also like squillion. I never use it but I am amused when someone else does.

Grillion? Why not just go through the alphabet?