Tag: linguistics

New Words!

The world’s greatest (this may be a biased opinion) dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, just added some new words and I could not be happier. The UWM English Department taught us to love and respect the OED.  When we were supposed to find the origins of words, we did not go just anywhere… we checked the OED. I thought it was sad that my subscription ended when I was no longer in school, but I found ways around that.

The OED (and any dictionary, really) is always adding new words and often no one (but weird English majors) bothers to pay attention. This time, people are paying attention. The Huffington Post had a great article  about the new words being added and even more interesting are the comments on the article.

People HATE new words and they hate their inclusion into the dictionary even more. I will always find that amusing because people use new/slang/improper words every day but they still maintain that these “fads” are ruining the English language. If it weren’t for fads, we would all be speaking Old English.

One of the best complaint comments was about how someone in the future will look back on our society and see that we included “sexting” in the dictionary and they will have a “WTF” reaction. If you don’t see how that’s ironic, I’m not sure there’s hope for you. Also recently included in the OED are internet acronyms like “LOL” and “OMG.” I love English.

Three (of the 400) new words added to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (which I use all the time because it’s amazing):

Retweet
verb: (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user)

Sexting
noun: the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone

Cyberbullying
noun: the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

According to The Telegraph, “the new words were selected after being entered into a database of 2 billion words drawn from contemporary websites and texts to prove their ubiquity”.

The dictionary’s editor Angus Stevenson told Channel 4 News that “new words often reflect the era in which they were added to the dictionary,” and commented on the impact that social media and the Internet have had on language.

It’s worth noting that the term “retweet” was not widely used until 2008 (two years after Twitter was founded), when users began prepending their messages with “RT @username”. Now with more than 175 million users, Twitter terminology has become common language, and the Oxford University Press undoubtedly agrees.

Other new words added to the Concise Oxford Dictionary include “woot” (used to express enthusiasm in online communication) and “kinematograph” (an early film projector).

THIS JUST IN: OED *removes* words to make room for new ones! I love it. Discuss.

Banned Words?

Normally I don’t care about trivial linguistic debates.  Trivial debates include how to pronounce 2010, and the right & wrong of regional dialects.  (For the record it’s “twenty-ten” and “bubbler” is the correct term and it’s not the same as “water fountain” :P )

Most ridiculous is this list that’s put out every year of banned words and phrases from Lake Superior State University (basically some elite group has decided some words/phrases are overused or just plain silly so they want them banished).  This is a culmination of what should have been Tuesday’s Lang&Lit post and today’s Crabby post.

I’m not thrilled with this list.  First, because it allows some group of people to decide what words should and shouldn’t be used for usually dumb reasons.  Second, because some words that are listed are the ones that I want to explore further when I decide to go to Grad School.  These words are what make languages evolve.  Third, because who cares?  Most of these words are “banned” because they’re simply overused or the old-fashioned elitists don’t like creativity.

Why are people so against creativity in language?  I’m as conservative as they come politically, but linguistically, I think I’m more liberal.  Don’t get me wrong, I love correcting grammar and using proper punctuation, but I think when it comes to syntax and new words: I love the changes and evolution.  “Slang” can be an interesting way to study a culture.  In language learning, you don’t truly speak like a native until you learn their slang.  This still means that in certain setting it’s always a bad idea to call your boss “dude” and type emails in all caps or all lowercase.  I think this goes for blogs, too.  STOP TYPING IN ALL LOWER CASE, YOU MORONS.  You aren’t writing a mass text to all your friends, you’re putting your thoughts into the internet for people to read and comment on – do it intelligently, especially if you’re writing about nothing except what you’re doing this weekend and your new haircut.

The 2010 list:

In these economic timeswhat times *aren’t* economic?  I can see how this is stupid.
Stimulus yes, it’s overused and yes, it probably wasn’t implemented correctly.  Maybe it should have been called a Hopeful Stimulus.
Toxic assetsI had to look this one up… but I guess it means “bad loans”?  I don’t know… I kind of like the phrasing.
Too big to fail makes no sense – get rid of it.
Transparency meaning “obvious” – I think it works.
Appseriously?  What’s so wrong with abbreviations that are grammatically correct?  What else would refer to an iPhone application?  I’m guessing the people who made this list don’t have iPhones or this wouldn’t be even suggested.  They also must be bitter that they are technologically retarded and refuse to jump to the year 20-10. Ha.
Teachable momentthe main complaint I read about this word is that it’s applicable to too many situations… since when was that bad? It’s not a terrible phrase, & I don’t care if it leaves us but I’d like it if people had intelligent reasons for wanting it gone.
Obama words I don’t like him but why not name silly things he thinks or does after him?  Didn’t everyone love doing that with Bush & Bushisms?  Oh, I forgot, we can only make fun of conservatives.  My bad.
Czar “a high authority position”.  Not sure why people hated this one so much.  I don’t listen to the news so I wasn’t really annoyed by it.
Shovel-readymeaning “ready for implementation”. I think it sounds stupid so I support the vote to remove it.
Twitter/Tweet/TwitterholicI’m fine with Twitter and the annoying people on it and their clever new terms.  What I’m not ok with is this comment from a random guy on the LSSU website, “People tweet and retweet and I just heard the word ‘tweet’ so many times it lost all meaning.”  Since when does repetition make something LOSE meaning?  He’s from Mexico, we won’t take him too seriously.
Sexting* Sexy + texts. Makes perfect sense to me. I love this new word
Bromance*I’m a fan of all man-related blended words.  Mandals (man + sandals) is another personal favorite. This should never go away.
Chillaxin’* Chill + relax. It also makes perfect sense.

Be sure to check out past banished lists, the current list & people’s idiodic comments.

*I have a special place in my heart for blending as a way to make new words.  This was a hugely important way that Old English transformed into Modern & Present Day English.  The haters of blended words need to CHILLAX because languages change!  This is what I would like to study in Grad School – word formation and language evolution.

Buon Compleanno A Me!

My 23rd birthday is finally when I feel like an adult. I’ve been a working, bill-paying, independent-living “adult” for a few years now. Even when I got married, I didn’t feel much like a grown-up. I was still in school and my dad was paying for part of my car.

Well now, at 23, I feel like a grown-up…. I’m done with classes. All the bills are on me. I found *several* gray hairs yesterday (no lie!!). I’m spending my birthday cleaning (to impress the family with my house-wifing skills when they visit this weekend).

I think this transition into adulthood makes me feel especially Golden. According to the UW-Madison Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the term “Golden Birthday” originated in Wisconsin. They define it as, “the day on which your age in years matches the day of the month on which you were born, ie turning 21 on the 21st day of one’s birth month.”

As highly regarded as this university may be, I think they lacked in their research quite a bit. My entire Italy-born family knew what a Golden Birthday was before they immigrated to Milwaukee. Despite being a big fan of Milwaukee (and Italy) I don’t think either can take credit for the term. Sorry, UW-Madison CSUMC- you failed.

For birthday celebrations, today I’m buying pre-sale tickets to my favorite musical group of all time: Hanson! And then tomorrow, my husband is taking me to my favorite restaurant: The Melting Pot. More gushing about the both of those in another post.

As a side note, I do have to say the Wisconsin Englishes project is quite fascinating for anyone interested in regional dialects.