Saturday, July 25, 2009

As old horses go to the knacker's yard...

The truth is not simply that words originally innocent tend to acquire a bad sense. The vocabulary of flattery and insult is continually enlarged at the expense of the vocabulary of definition. As old horses go to the knacker's yard, or old ships to the breakers, so words in their last decay go to swell the enormous list of synonyms for good and bad. And as long as most people are more anxious to express their likes and dislikes than to describe facts, this must remain a universal truth about language.

—C. S. Lewis, "The Death of Words," On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, p. 106.

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