Thank you to everyone who has taken up my invitation to add to our discussion about changes in the language. Here, as promised, are extracts from that correspondence.
Let's start with neologisms, or words peculiar to an area or school. Matthew Venton, who teaches English and media at Hayes school, Bromley, writes: "Imagine the look of pride when a student comes up at the end of a lesson to tell you: 'I've done bare amount of work'. 'Bare' in suburban Bromley means 'a lot of'. This can lead to confusion."
Salome Leventis, who works for Penguin books, encountered some unexpected terms when she spent her sixth-form years at Westminster School between 1996 and 1998. Here are a few: "brown" for cigarette, "dark" for bad, "beans" as a negative description, normally of people, and an intriguing term Ms Leventis says she's been coming across more frequently since school, "budget" for cheapscabby as in "He'sthat's so budget".
Peter Tallon, a retired teacher who lives in Staffordshire, adds to the piece on "like": "I like the 'like' in Ainsley Harriot's 'What is he like?'" How would you start to explain that usage? Like as a verb has turned topsy-turvy. It's original meaning was to please. Chaucer has the Wife of Bath claiming marriage "where it liketh me."