Now we're talking

Did you have a well holiday? It's good to be back and time to arrange a meet. Heather Neill slates some of those who will be there

How are you after the holidays? "I'm good", might be the reply if you are young andor cool. For some, this has long ceased to be an announcement of moral rectitude and merely means the same as "I'm well". When did one supplant the other - and why?

Other recent changes of meaning can usually be laid at someone's door. I have one friend - a highly-educated person, way beyond teenage - who always suggests that we arrange a "meet". Now, when I was young, this would have entailed hounds, horses and posh persons in pink jackets. My literary friend seems to have adopted an East Endism, possibly made popular by that television scoundrel Arthur Daley, in which the "ing" ending has become redundant.

Then there's "slated". A piece of slate was once a common object for the making of chalked notes. Some older teachers may even remember being issued with them in post-war schools when paper was scarce; older beer-drinkers will at least know the arrangement for putting money owed the publican "on the slate", even if the physical means had disappeared. The verb,"to slate", used to mean "to criticise". You wouldn't have wanted your show "slated". But that was then; now, via the US, we have sentences such as "Gwyneth Paltrow is slated to appear in a multi-million dollar movie". The idea of scribbling intentions on a slice of grey rock is back with us in the age of the computer.

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