Thank you very much to everyone who submitted an entry to Competition 4: Language evolution! We really enjoyed reading all of the entries that we received. Below you can read some of the winning entries, as selected by Professor Carolyne Larrington, who wrote this class’s article on the evolution of language!
1st place (Year 10): Amy A. & Gracie C.
Gracie’s winning entry
1st place (Year 11): Alice B. & Tia-Lana C.
Tia-Lana’s winning entry
Within this essay, I will focus on the noun ‘timepiece’ and how it is not as relevant today as it was a few generations ago. While researching this topic, I decided to speak to my grandparents about the words they used when they were younger that we no longer hear today. ‘Timepiece’ cropped up in our conversation and I realised that it is not a commonly used word.
Having spoken to them in more depth, I found that my grandfather had used the word ‘timepiece’ in the same way I use the noun ‘watch’. I found this bizarre since I had never heard a watch being referred to as a ‘timepiece’ before.
Since my grandparents also speak French and Creole, I found a loose correlation of the meaning between the noun ‘watch’ in English and French. The word ‘watch’ derives from the noun ‘wakefulness’, and the word ‘montre’ (French for ‘watch’) translates to the phrase ‘to show’. The loose link could be seen in relation to the time of day, with wakefulness in ‘watch’ and showing the time of day in ‘montre’.
To find out why this term has fallen out of use, I needed to find out how it was derived a why it was replaced.
The noun ‘watch’ originated in the Anglo Saxon times. It was used to refer to guards ‘keeping watch whilst on their shift’. It was also used in Shakespeare’s Macbeth “as I stand my watch upon the hill” – the context of this line also refers to guards keeping watch. This shows us that from mid-11th century to the early 1600’s the meaning of keeping watch according to the time of day had not changed.
First recorded mid-17th century, the noun ‘timepiece’ was used due to the invention of a device to show the time. Aristocrats would have used this word in their general speak and it was used by the wealthy as a mark of status. It would have been more commonly used between the higher class because the vernacular and dialect of the rich and the poor had its diﬀerences.
Nowadays the word ‘timepiece’ is used to describe highly valued watches or special edition chronometers. This word may have fallen out of use simply because of the evolution of language in our society. The word ‘timepiece’ was used as a diﬀerentiation of status and held a particular value to its name. Now in the present day we see ‘timepieces’ being worn by all stratum of society and is now called a ‘watch’.
To conclude, the word ‘timepiece’ is used less frequently as a result of our language evolving in an ever-changing society. Perhaps when an object of desire is available to wider society it causes the word to evolve. This task inspires me to speak in more depth to people of my grandparents’ generation about which words have come in and out of use. Ultimately, I would like to ascertain… how many of these words have gone full circle?
2nd place (Year 10)
2nd place (Year 11)
Finalists (Year 10)
Finalist (Year 11)