random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: February 2009

IBU Biathlon World Championship Under Way

Kati Wilhelm of Germany shoots during the Women 7,5 km sprint of the IBU Biathlon World Campionships on February 14, 2009 in Pyeonchang, South Korea. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Kati Wilhelm of Germany shoots during the Women 7,5 km sprint of the IBU Biathlon World Campionships on February 14, 2009 in Pyeonchang, South Korea. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

The Biathlon World Championship got underway this weekend in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and what an eventful start it’s been. The weekend began with the news that three members of the Russian team had been banned following failed drugs tests, two from the women’s and one from the men’s events, all very strong contenders. In addition, the track had to be entirely covered with artificial snow to make the event even possible, after warm weather had melted all of the natural covering, leading not only to speculation that the later men’s event would be even more difficult to undertake, but also complaints from competitors and team managers that the snow covering was unsuitable. As if the problem of snow wasn’t sufficient, the track’s location near a wind farm was indication enough of the rather difficult atmospheric conditions for shooting, but as the weekend unfolded it became clear that the adverse conditions would only play a supporting role to the actions of the competitors.

Beware the Squiggly Red Line

Our language is constantly evolving. That’s almost a tautology for any language that hasn’t been officially pronounced dead. Whilst the rate of change often appears virtually imperceptible to us, a quick flick through a dictionary containing word etymologies, or a glance at the literature from bygone centuries soon proves the point. Words arise and mutate, they spontaneously alter their usage and change their position in a sentence, they crop up in unusual scenarios through metaphor, and before long appear to us in an entirely new guise from their original form. Whilst we occasionally borrow words from foreign languages, and typically for the moment derive new words for new technologies, the main source of new words in our language comes from the current stock. Each of us has an inbuilt sense of how words should be used and formed, and through repetition and popularity, a new word (or an old one with new stripes) can worm its way into one of those revered tomes we like to call dictionaries.

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