Language is a unique entity that changes and grows with a people. It behaves like a living thing; the nature of language is to develop along with the culture of those whom it serves. The growth and development of many words can be traced from modern usage to their original meanings. Child has one such intrepid history. The word child first emerged in the Old English language and its meanings have changed over time. Child appears in the Bible, in Shakespeare’s work, and in Spenser’s poetry. This word has also been used by William Wordsworth, as well as appearing in the magazine Good Housekeeping.
The original origin of child is found in Old English, the Anglo Saxon language. The Anglo Saxon spelling was cild. It was first was printed in a Rushworth (an Anglo Saxon) edition of the Gospel of Matthew in the year A.D. 975, “a brohte weron him cild” (OED 113). The plural form was cildra and is now children. Child additionally has origins within the Old Teutonic, Gothic, and West Germanic languages; dialect for each language often depended on geography with variances occurring over relatively short distances (OED 113). Words with such early histories often have varying meanings accredited to them.
The word’s original meaning was “the unborn or newly born human being; fœtus, infant” (OED 113). While this interpretation is still applicable in modern English, child most commonly means “a young person” (The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus 93), in the present day. The word child can also mean “a young person of either sex below the age of puberty; a boy or girl” (OED 113). The term is likewise extended to youths approaching or entering upon manhood and to pupils at school (OED 113). Some synonyms include bud, juvenile, and kid, ...
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...at are still applicable today. The Book of Genesis in the Bible uses the word as an immediate descendent: a nonexistent son or daughter of Sarai. Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale made child a newborn endowed with qualities of innocence with a redeeming effect. Even more in regard to virtue, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene portrays child not to be a physical person, but something from and within a person’s being, emanating chivalrous purpose. William Wordsworth presents the word as a living person with a corruptible innocence that is best to protect and maintain. An infant son or daughter to be taken care of is the depiction in the Good Housekeeping article of child. Language is constantly changing and growing, mirroring human progress. It is an intricate thing that affects us just as we affect it; our relationship runs deep into our past and runs indefinitely into the future.
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