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Strictly speaking | Plogging

A new fitness craze combines the personal benefits of running with the planetary benefits of picking up litter as you go. Plogging was invented in Sweden, and combines the Swedish word plocka, meaning ‘to pick’, with the English jogging. Words combined from different languages are known as hybrid words, and are quite common in English. Think of television, which brings together Greek and Latin roots, or words ending in –nik, a borrowing from Russian, like beatnik. The meaning of such formations can lack transparency to English users unfamiliar with their origin, and plogging has the additional handicap of ambiguity, having been previously used to describe a type of blogging (p(hone)/p(olitical) (b)logging). Whether this meaning of the word survives rather depends on the ongoing popularity of the activity, but there are already signs of it gaining a foothold through new formations such as plog, plogger and ploggathon. This last makes the connection with running more overt by linking it with the famous distance event. It’s doubtful, though, that the original marathon runner would have even made it to Athens with his news if he’d had the extra task of collecting rubbish along the way.

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