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Today's word in hand: preservation


Today's word in hand: preservation

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about preservation orders. The word “preservation” comes from “preserve”, which was appropriated by the English in about 1330 as an Anglicised version of the Latin praeservāre, meaning to keep safe, to watch over. 
This makes perfect sense in the context of current attempts to preserve assets expropriated by greedy hoarders. Take these treasures back and keep them under the eyes of watchful protectors by all means. But there are other meanings associated with preserving and preservationism.Libraries are still stuffed with books that may be entirely relevant in subject matter but which also contain old-fashioned terms that have passed their use-by date. Like preservation.In some of the books I read as a child – which had already been gathering dust on shelves for many harvest seasons – “preservation” was the act of preserving fruit and vegetables in sugar or vinegar, and “preserves” were the fruits of all this laborious picking and pickling, slicing and spicing, bottling and sealing.
Just like wrongfully diverted funds, these precious reserves were stored in a dark place and carefully guarded until ready to go on a sandwich.
Language evolves constantly and irrevocably, but sometimes words take a turn and find themselves living next door to the house where they were born. 
Take the recipients of preservation orders. It doesn’t matter whether anyone involved read those old books about preserves and preserving. They already know that if they’re not in a pickle, they’re in a jam.

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