Human experimentation is banned unless the subjects are volunteers who have provided their informed consent. I believe the more casual research my son recently tried is exempt from those rules.
Let me explain.
Over the summer he worked with the grounds crew for a local park system. Being the sort who enjoys occupying his mind with more lively endeavors than weed whacking, he found other ways to keep himself amused. It may be helpful to point out that he and his siblings know many more words than they can pronounce. Their vocabularies are considered odd by others. Their dinner table discussions are, at best, eccentric. These tendencies can be almost entirely blamed one habit: avid reading.
He used this social liability as the basis for the human experimentation trials he conducted on his unwitting co-workers. The research took all summer. His subjects were not aware that they were part of the study until it was too late. The damage had been done. The results were in. I’m going to tell you how to conduct the same experiment.
You, the experimenter, can bring nearly extinct words and phrases back into regular usage. (See, you’re providing a service to an endangered vocabulary while at the same time smiling on the inside.)
Employing an outmoded word or phrase on a daily basis will subtly promote its usefulness and stimulate others to add it to their ordinary lexicon. Yes, you get people to say funny words.
1. You will need subjects. Rely on people you see everyday. Your children, co-workers, neighbors, and friends are excellent
victims candidates for your experiment. The more the merrier. If you want to get all science-y, choose a group of people you interact with separately from all other groups. They will form your experimental group, while everyone else in your life will be your control group.
2. You will need a word or phrase you think shouldn’t have fallen out of popular usage. My son chose “dagnabbit,” one of the many oddly amusing words his grandfather used without a hint of irony. (That was a rich well indeed. Other possibilities from my paternal line included “holy mackerel,” “jehoshaphat,” and “tarnation.”)
This is a casual experiment, best done over a long period of time. Begin using your chosen word or phrase regularly but naturally in your conversation. Pay no obvious heed to the word as it is adopted by others.
If people make a fuss over your use of the word, you might choose to insist it is back in style. Or you might use the opportunity to expand the experiment by promoting those subjects to fellow experimenters. Explain what you are doing in the most noble terms possible, then implore the person use his or her own outdated word or phrase in daily conversation. You’re simply enlarging the Human Experimentation of the Word Kind study, surely to enhance our world as we know it.
See how long it takes to firmly embed your word or phrase in other people’s regular discourse.
Have you gotten subjects to saying funny words? Then you’ve proven the hypothesis and done your part to save endangered terms. Another successful Human Experiment of the Word Kind.