English is an amazingly adaptable language, but I sometimes wonder if maybe it hasn’t gone a bit far.
Of course, that could simply be the grouchy old dude living in my head yelling at all those new words to get off my language’s front lawn. After all, time passes, change accretes and we must develop new language to describe those things or behaviors new to the world.
Still, the idea of selfie being an actual word in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary seems to me to be an example of us being slightly too loose with accepting new words. You know?
My favorite quote about the English language (And, yes, I realize the fact that I have a favorite quote about the English language, which implies that I have more than one quote about it, definitely labels me as a nerd of the highest order. Deal.) comes from James Nicoll.
The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
Which goes a long way toward explaining some of the new words that now exist as official parts of the English language. More than 150 words were added to the language as of this year, many of them reflecting the increasing importance of the online to our daily existence.
Some of the new words include “hashtag,” “selfie” and “tweep,” along with new definitions for words like “catfish,” which is now recognized as “a person who sets up a false social network profile for deceptive purposes,” according to a press release from the company.
“Crowdfunding,” “gamification” and “steampunk” join the dictionary as well, as does “Yooper” — a nickname for “a native or resident of the upper peninsula of Michigan.”
Merriam-Webster isn’t the only dictionary to notice tech words slamming into the English language.
The embrace of technology as a shaper of modern language has not gone unnoticed at the Collins English Dictionary, either. The company announced Twictionary on Monday, a tool to comb Twitter for new words.
I am so going totally going to use that tool as soon as I close this window. This will be awesome!
And, yes, I realize that only cements my image as a giant word nerd. Not like I’ve never heard that before.Share on Facebook