Over the course of our lives, the language we use will change. New words will be concocted, old words will take new meanings, and words will fall out of common parlance. These shifts are natural, no matter how much a language tries to cling to its purity.
While words like jargogle are relatively harmless whether they’re in common parlance or not, some words can cause great harm. Slurs, whether they were used a century or a decade ago, should be shifted out of language.
A common example is gypsy, which is a slur against the Romani people. Derivatives of this word are generally associated with theft, cheating, lying, and stealing. Language campaigns to remove it, however, are often met with resistance.
The same principle applies to many other harmful terms, and it shouldn’t. Words come in and out of common usage all the time. For example, google was not a verb two decades ago, and yet it’s one everyone knows now.
However, there are many reasons people use for not changing their vocabulary as culture shapes the language. Reasons like “it’s been that way since I was a child,” “I don’t mean it like that,” and “I don’t understand, so I’m not going to” are all common reasons given.
Language matters, and using harmful language hurts the people around us. So it’s in all of our best interests to retain some flexibility in our vocabulary so we can evolve as we need to fit the present.
Shifts in language over time are natural, and removing harmful words from common discussions should be the standard, not the exception. The change may seem odd at first, but it benefits both us and society to see it through. Who knows, we may even find new favorite words to enjoy.