Francis Gavin wrote:
> Because it moves and evolves and nests itself within the host objects
> of culture and media like a virus. Because it starts with its own
> context and eventually merges and recontextualizes. Because it
> continues to exist in new tongues long after the speech in which it
> originated has died yet the individual words continue to live and
> often go on to mean something else.
> Watch a new word or phrase grow and spread inside a culture. Some come
> and go like a brief flareup, some mature and survive. Some lie dormant
> for a long time within the nerves of our communications systems,
> opportunistically waiting for a fresh outbreak.
Quite an illuminating metaphor, but your first paragraph fits a language
as a whole, your second paragraph suggests that words, expressions, even
what Empson called feelings in words, are the viruses rather than
"language" as such. Probably pushed much further the metaphor might
start to clank. I'm sure your last sentence is correct, but off the top
of my head I can't think of a good example just now. In a post on
another list today I tried to make Pope's "profund" do some work, but I
doubt that it did.