46 Different Ways to Say Dirty

Better use the words “dirty,” “stick,” and “guts” a lot if you like them, as linguists say they’re soon to be extinct in English.  There’s a lexicon – kind of like a dictionary – of 200 words that linguists say are not specific to any particular culture and represent concepts that are familiar across continents and millennia.  These are words like the ones above, as well as “I” and “Who,” “two,” and “five.”

There are now at least 46 different ways to say “dirty” across all Indo-European languages, and the 46 words are all unrelated to one another.  Apparently, the more rapidly one of the original common “cross-language” word changes, the more likely it is to disappear.  I’m guessing that it’s being replaced by language-specific words in each culture’s own tongue.

There’s a nice summary of this concept at:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7911645.stm

Looks like “push,” “wipe,” and “stab” are headed out of the English language, too.  It’s interesting to me that many of the words cited have violent or unpleasant physical connotations.  Why do we (across the Indo-European languages) now have so many other versions of these concepts?  How many other ways can you think of to push, wipe, or stab something?

What ARE the 46 different ways to say “dirty,” and how many are in English?   Unclean. Dingy. Filthy. Foul.  Grimy.  Soiled.  Befouled.  Sullied.  Besmirched.  What others am I missing?

So go ahead and write all you want about pushing dirty sticks into guts, wiping stab wounds, and so on…but in a few hundred years or less no one will understand what you’re talking about!


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