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Why we should celebrate new words

August 30, 2013

OED1_2410787b

If you haven’t been living on Mars this week, you will have heard that some new modern words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, and have caused a little controversy.

Now, let me begin by saying that I still see myself as fairly young and hip, but even I hadn’t heard of some of the words that have been deemed popular enough to be added.

Twerking, selfie and emoji I’m aware of, regardless of whether I use them myself or not. But what on earth is a balayage or a fauxhawk?

Should I be concerned that these strange new words, among others, have made it into the dictionary? Should I be worried that I’m going to have to change my entire vocabulary just so that people understand what I’m saying?

No I shouldn’t.

There hasn’t been a time in history where our lingo hasn’t evolved or changed, so this recent bout of new words should be celebrated as merely adding to the colourful history of the English language.

There are new words added to the OED four times per year, equating to almost 1,000 new words in just 12 months. I don’t think I learned 1,000 new words last year, but, should I hear one of them and not understand it, I will know where to turn.

The OED isn’t telling us to start using hackerspace, grats and bitcoin if we don’t want to, merely informing us of their definitions.

And just so we are all clear:

twerk

Pronunciation: /twəːk/

verb

[no object] informal

  • dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance:just wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this songtwerk it girl, work it girl

selfie

Pronunciation: /ˈsɛlfi/

(also selfy)

noun (plural selfies)

informal

  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website:occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary

emoji

Pronunciation: /ɪˈməʊdʒi/

noun (plural same or emojis)

  • a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication:emoji liven up your text messages with tiny smiley faces

balayage

Pronunciation: /ˈbalɪjɑːʒ/

(also baliaɡe, balliaɡe)

noun

[mass noun]

fauxhawk

Pronunciation: /ˈfəʊhɔːk/

noun

  • a hairstyle in which a section of hair running from the front to the back of the head stands erect, intended to resemble a Mohican haircut (in which the sides of the head are shaved):the opening drew a primarily male audience sporting ironic T-shirts and fauxhawks

 

Now get out there and impress the young-uns with your funky new vocab! CB




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