How to Fit Every New Word in the Oxford Dictionary Into 1 Article

By Derek Thompson

MEMO

FROM: Word Selection Committee of the Oxford Dictionary

TO: Staff

SUBJECT: Re: today's new words

Dear Staff,

I know what you're thinking: "Grats, idiots. You've destroyed the English language."

You don't like our new batch of words. You unlike our new batch of words. The Oxford Dictionary isn't supposed to girl crush on Urban Dictionary. We're supposed to be a gateway for the future of language, not some linguistic omnishambles for Generation Twerk. When trends like the Internet of thingsMOOCs and space tourism crop up, the Oxford Dictionary is supposed to stick with tradition, not bandy about some vapid list of last season's most fashionable acronyms (FIL? BYOD?), like we're some A/W catalog previewing next season's chandelier earrings for click and collect shoppers. (Even as I'm typing that sentence, I barely know what it means!) And lord, you're thinking, if some Jersey Shore girl in a pixiecut with double-denim jorts and flatforms taking a selfie on her phablet is this generation's William Shakespeare, you're gonna straight up vom your street food.

I'll admit, guac is a "new" word like bitcoin is a "real" currency.

But let me respond first by saying: Apols. Lately, we've been feeling a bit of FOMO about all the buzzworthy verbiage orbiting outside our hallowed pages. While initially it seemed a bit dappy to add nonsense like LDR and other ghastly abbrevs just because teens don't have time to spell things out on Facebook Chat, the thing is, we can't have our blondie cake pop and eat it, too.

It's not this dictionary's job to request a digital detox just because Web diction has shaved a fauxhawk into the English language. Rather, it's our job to highlight the words that blend into the way we actually talk today. It's kinda like linguistic balayage, if I truly understood what the heck balayage actually was.

So yes, our language is suffering from a food baby of derp these days. But it's our job to adapt to the geek chic hackerspace -- even if babymoons strike you as a dumb excuse for me time; even if pear cider remains an unacceptable alternative to beer; and even if  emoji represents everything a good dictionary should be against.

TL;DRSrsly, this is the future of language. Squee.

 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/08/how-to-fit-every-new-word-in-the-oxford-dictionary-into-1-article/279127/