Assignment Four: Definition of Intertia

It is difficult to understand what are the characteristics of a fairly complex word, because the choice of vocabulary is determined by many different factors, among which the main issue is the level of verbal intellect of the person. It is possible to assume that the main criteria in this case is the subjective evaluation of the popularity of the word in every day speech of an average individual.

The word “inertia” can be called a complex word that is not often used by the majority of people. It is possible to define inertia as laziness, lack of desire to do something, the fear of doing something new. Inertness means being resistant to changes in the worst sense of the word. It can refer both to a person and a system. The governmental structure can be inert, that means that it is very difficult to change something in the traditional way of its functioning.

The Oxford English Dictionary proposes two definitions of “inertia”. The first common usage of the word denotes a tendency “to do nothing or to remain unchanged” (“Inertia”). The second defines it as the term in physics, that means the property of the material object to resist the any attempts to change its position in the space and to start its motion (“Inertia”). According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (“Inertia”), the notion of inertia was introduced in 1713 in the physical science of that day. It was initially proposed by Johann Kepler, a German physician and astronomer of the 17th century. The notion has the Latin origin and derives from the word “inertia”, that is translated as “idleness” or “unskillfulness”. “Iners” is the derivative form of “inertis” in Latin, that means “inactive” and “unskilled”. The notion has acquired the second sense in 1822, which is “the apathy” (“Inertia”).The meaning of the word changed with the time, it became more colloquial and entered the life of ordinary people. It is possible to assume that the word became more colloquial in the result of the popularization of science, when the majority of people got free access to the basics of physics.

It is possible to claim that this example shows both stability and mutability of the language. The stability is evident in the following example because the core meaning of the word did not change. The idea that the body does not react to the changes and to the attempts to move it remains the same. In the case of the physical term, the object of the theoretical motion is any physical body. In the second common meaning the object is mainly a person or a system. The etymological insight into the history of the word “inertia” also emphasizes the stable nature of the language. Despite the fact that the word came from the Latin language, the meaning remained the same even after the transition of the notion to the English language. The mutability can also be found in the example of the word “inertia”. First of all, it is evident on the level of stylistics. The meaning changed slightly, but the context in which it is appropriate to use this notion changed greatly. After the appearance of the notion, it was appropriate to use it only in the scientific discourse, because it was a physical term. With the time, more and more people got access to the scientific education and thus popularize the word “inertia”. It lost its initial scientific context and was used by the educated people in their every day speech. It changed the context where it became appropriate to use the initially scientific term more broad and democratic.

Works Cited

Inertia.” Online Etymology Dictionary. n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

Inertia.” Oxford English Dictionary. n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2015.

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