We don't have conversations - we have an exchange of sound bites and coded trigger words like liberal and entitlement. The erudite still retain the original usage and meaning of the words but everyone else uses them as they experience them i.e. as they are used in the media.
Politicians use them and the media quotes them when they do. We hear them and then the media's definition is the only definition we know.
Is there a difference in the way word usage evolves? You bet there is. Kids may jump on a new word they intentionally create (how cool to have the other kids use your word) but Politicians are more calculating about the process.
Politician will generally coin new usages for words not create new words. Politicians will avoid saying one thing by coming near to saying it without actually saying it. A skill they hone constantly. They will also take being snide to an art form, if given the opportunity.
Politicians love talking but they hate saying anything. They would much rather sound like they are saying something instead of actually pinning themselves down to a comment. On the other hand, the rightwingnut pundit says lots of things and tries to sound like they aren't really saying anything. Its all entertainment not news they say and then they continue on with their reporting.
I guess what I am saying is that we no longer think or speak in language as language - the old art of using words well.
We think and speak in sound bite words and understand them as they are perceived by others not by the dictionary.
Mr. Morris laments that it is so hard for us to have a conversation that speaks to the social, empathetic and altruistic side of humanity.
We define words by the lies they tell and find that when we look for the original meaning of the word it is too conflated with the lie to be useful. We then seek a new word... what is the new word for welfare? What is the new word for liberal? Progressives actually were ahead of the game on this one and started differentiating ourselves from the liberals early on so we get to keep the word progressive. Can people discuss the truth if they must use lies to do it? That is what has happened to us. Euphemisms r us.
The old usage of a word was direct. The new usage of the word is intended to deceive. Welfare as helping - faring well is not the meaning of the word any longer.
But it is and was the media that did this. Not people. Not 'WE" (ahem) ... the media taught us the new meanings of words mostly by associative context. Are you in favor of welfare queens riding around in Cadillacs and furs?
Neat thing to know about that google ngram thingie I think. I'll have to try using it... here at the end of the world.