Periodically I'm blindsided by a cultural reference or a piece of information that I think is common knowledge but it turns out to be a generational thing. A recent example:
Last week I was in a meeting with a fellow faculty member and several graduate students. At one point, the other faculty member said that he wanted to "cogitate" on something. The graduate students (who are bright people) looked puzzled, and one of them asked what that word meant. I was really surprised because I thought that was one of those everyone-knows kind of words.
So, later that afternoon I asked my Sociological Methods class if they knew what it meant, and not one of the 40 kids did. I asked several other people who were over 40, and they all did.
So, here's my question: What happened to cogitation? (The word, not the action). Is it the case that most young people don't know it and most old do? If so, why? I don't think that it's just that young people know far fewer words; in fact, they probably know more than past generations. Also, I haven't found this big a generational difference with other words, so... what happened?
Something to cogitate on....