English 10: Writing Portfolio
Catholic Memorial High School
|Any essay on the word "cool" is cool enough to read. No,
I am not using the word the same
way Boeth. Metr. did in 1000 A.D. The primary definition these days is "moderately cold"
but the word also has some street meanings. It is used in only 2 ways, not the 7 mentioned in the
OED. One meaning is actually used in the first book ever written in English, Beowulf. Most people
perceive the word to be young, but "cool" is as old as the first book ever written in
English. "Cool" is a popular word among today's youth and since it has never lost a
meaning in it's 1000 year history it will only continue to follow it's pattern of becoming
more popular as decades go by.
I interviewed a few of my piers on how they felt about the word. None of them technically gave a
right answer as to what they thought the meaning was. Sixty-percent thought it meant to be popular,
one of the "street" meanings. The other 40% did not even come close to what the OED has as
a meaning. Alex Flores added his meaning of being "athletic" and being popular. Eric
Anderson said it was to be popular, another street meaning. John Cooper said it meant "social
norm" which is as far away from any definition as New Guinea. Riley Blizard also said that it
meant to be popular but added it meant "to be funny", yet again another street definition.
The last recipient was T.J. Bryan who thought it meant "awesome", whatever that is
it's wrong. From this a person can conclude that not too many people know what "cool"
really means but just create meanings for the word to suite their own needs.
The future of the word "cool" for foreigners is a bright one. It is a very easily
pronounced word for foreigners. I myself speak another language as fluently as English and have no
trouble with the word after asking myself if I do or not. My parents use the word too making it seem
as if the word is as easy to say as cat. Many foreigners have trouble with words that have a
"th" sound or a silent letter but since "cool" has neither of these it is deemed
easily pronounced. It can easily blend in with other languages as new age teenagers are using it
more and more after seeing foreign American films in other countries.
The OED shows us that the word "cool" has many different meanings. "Relaxed and
calm" is one. The OED associates "cool" with "moderately cool" as it's
1st choice of definition, "a sensation of being cool" as it's second, and leaving the
only obsolete definition of the word to be "having little vitality or force". A special
meaning the word has that is said to be alive is "a large sum of money" but I believe this
definition is dead as of 2000 onward making it the only modern dead definition. The OED says that
the word has a dead definition of “chilled” but this definition has been revived in past years which
is why I don’t count it as a dead definition. A newer and updated version would show that this
definition is still alive, among other things. An updated version would also show the new meanings
for the word which range from “good for you” to “fun”.
From the year 2000 and onward, many different definitions are floating around. “Decent”, “popular”,
“somewhat cold”, “relaxed”, and “fun to be around” are the most popular. Authors like William
Shakespeare even have used some of these definitions in works like Hamlet, Cymbeline, and
Midsummer’s Dream. “Vunder the coole shade of a Siccamore” is one quote taken from Shakespeare’s
Love Labours Lost. From this quote we can see that he is using two definitions in one; “moderately
cold” and “relaxed”. From this we can conclude that Shakespeare was ahead of his time and did not
limit himself to one definition of the word but combined two to show the true meaning of what he is
trying to describe. In Chancer’s version of Beowulf, he uses the meaning “not heated” when he quotes
“Thow…thynkist in thyn wit that is ful cole” to suggest that the character being described was not
angry. This shows that “cool” was even important in the first book ever written in English.
“Cool” does not have to rely on what happens to the English language because so many movies have
been made with the word being used in it that any foreigner could easily pick up the word and use it
themselves. Foreigners are going to determine the future of the word as it is blending in with other
languages. I researched and found that in a Daddy Yankee song named “Gasolina”, the word “coolo” is
said in a Spanish sentence which shows the word’s influence in that particular language. One can
concur that the Spanish are going to adopt the word just like how we’ve adopted the word “douche”
from the French. Though it remains uncertain what the fate of the English language is, one thing is
certain. The word “cool” has survived 1000 years of a changing language and with it’s influence in
other languages it will survive 1000 more years in one language or another.
Dear Geoffrey Chaucer,
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the
word "tennis" can be dated as far back
Literature exists all around the world but in
Britain it flourishes with masterpieces and some of