Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 12:16:30 -0500


Subject: question on a word -Reply

Many thanks for the replies! In particular, I'll pass on the reference

suggestions. I should probably be slightly more specific about what

we're looking for: a word (again, my friend writing the dissertation

believes one exists) that would fit in the sentence:

"Word X has/is [XXXX] with the normal usage of word Y."

or else:

"These people have [XXXX] the meanings of word X and word Y."

That is, we're not looking for examples of X and Y, or for a description of

the general phenomenon of X changing meaning or having a special

(argot or jargon) meaning, but we want to know if there is a term [XXXX]

which would accurately indicate that X and Y are being used

synonymously when they are not normally synonyms ...

The specific X and Y in question here are "marriage" and "home" (yes, I

do realize that "marriage" and "home" overlap a lot in their usage

anyway; I'm not familiar enough with my friend's topic to know exactly

what she's arguing, but I believe it involves a particular couple's

development of an individual and idiosyncratic concept of marriage,

which at times becomes, um, blended? with their concept of home to the

extent that they will use either word to refer to it ... something like that.

Regardless, you can tell from my attempt to state the question why a

word is needed ... :-)

Replies by email please (I'm not a regular reader of these lists). And

thanks again.

Jonathan Gilbert


Peter T. Daniels grammatim[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 07/29/97 06:45pm

An example would help, but it sounds like you're talking about jargon,

slang, or argot (idiosyncratic language varieties defined according to the

user group; see textbooks of sociolinguistics).

Deborah D K Ruuskanen druuskan[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 07/30/97


Words used in separate contexts changing meaning? I should imagine

there are quite a lot, particular if you think of American/British



Carsten Breul upp20a[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 07/30/97 05:06am

In David Crystal's _The Cambridge Encyclopedia of

Language_ (Cambridge: CUP, 1987), there are descriptions of situations

resp. phenomena which might be close to what you're friend is looking


[examples snipped]

[The original question:]


The question is on behalf of another friend who is working on a

dissertation (not on a linguistics topic, it's social history of a sort); she

wants to describe a situation in which the usage of one word (in a

particular context, by a small group of people) has diverged enough from

its standard usage that it has become interchangeable with another

word, normally either different or unrelated in meaning. My friend

believes there is a word for this phenomenon, but nobody we've asked

so far has been able to identify it ... does anyone out there know?

Jonathan Gilbert