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RUN, A Verb for Our Frantic Times / Language
Her birthday: must set plans in motion. Run a bath, put on cologne, set the table. High anxiety. Run down list: set watch again, put water in glasses, set flowers. Run to the window — phew! Watch her put a finger to the doorbell. Such joy! What timing! And just as the sun sets, too!
Thus does an evening beckon, full of pleasantry and promise. But as described here it notes events in a manner of considerable interest for the lexicographer. For scattered within the vocabulary of this 54-word drama are 11 uses of the three most complex verbs in the English language: “set,” “put” and “run.”
Each of the trio is possessed of so many meanings, senses and shadings of interpretation as to have occupied for months, even years, the exceptionally agile minds working on the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (expected in 2037). Recently an amiable contest has been fought to determine which verb has the most meanings of all. Which is the most lustrously complex word among the three quarters of a million or so words and senses that make up this vast mongrel tongue we know as the English language?
Well, according to the O.E.D.’s chief editor, John Simpson, we now have a winner — and a winner that may well say something about the current state of English-speaking humankind. For while in the first edition of the O.E.D., in 1928, that richest-of-all-words was “set” (75 columns of type, some 200 senses), the victor in today’s rather more frantic and uncongenial world is, without a doubt, the three-letter word “run.”
You might think this word simply means “to go with quick steps on alternate feet, never having both or (in the case of many animals) all feet on the ground...
Продолжение читайте в журнале English4U №11 (ноябрь 2011) на который можно подписаться или купить здесь.