Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Un Words

Before you unfriend that geek you unearthed at the unconference on unmarketing last week, pause for a moment of gratitude.

You can thank two IBM researchers, Lance Miller and John Thomas, for our love of "un" words.

Musing over computer commands, they wrote in a 1976 report, “It would be quite useful to permit users to ‘take back’ at least the immediately preceding command (by issuing some special ‘undo’ command).”

The Bard is responsible for no fewer than 314 of the ones that appear in The Oxford English Dictionary, including unsex, unshout, unspeak and unswear.

Charlotte Brontë, in Jane Eyre, has her character say, “I had learned to love Mr. Rochester; I could not unlove him now.”

And contemporary songsters like "un" words, too.

Among Bob Dylan lyrics, one of my favorites goes:

"You taught me how to love you, baby
You taught me, oh, so well.
Now, I can’t go back to what was, baby
I can’t unring the bell."
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