Here at NPR we deal all day, every day with words, written and spoken.
We try to avoid flosculation (embellishment or ornament) or blateration (blabber), but we’re kind of suckers for a good story about the English language.
When we came across savethewords.org, we knew we had found one. The website features arcane words that are well on their way out of use. Many are no longer found in dictionaries.
Site visitors can “adopt” these words and pledge to revive them by using them as frequently as possible in conversation and in correspondence.
It’s all offered up in a very slick web presentation.
Well, when we went on a raviation (fishing trip) for the site’s creator to quaeritate (ask) more about it, we learned we’d been captivated by a clever webvertising campaign.
All Things Considered reached Edward Ong, who composed example sentences for the website using each of about 1,200 words in present day contexts. Ong turns out to be a creative director for Y&R (Young and Rubicam) advertising in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. He explained that savethewords.org is designed to grab the attention of 21st century web surfers and get them interested in a good old fashioned paper dictionary. It seems that Y&R handles the advertising for the Oxford English Dictionary in Malaysia and Singapore.
“One of the problems we were facing,” says Ong, “is that many people prefer to use the online dictionary. So we thought why not get them to develop a love for words online and push them back to the physical dictionary.”
Some of Ong’s colleagues came up with the idea one night in a bar. We have to admit, it’s an intellectually locupletative promotion.