You know that obnoxiously trite line “The Oxford English Dictionary defines (fill in the blank with a simple word) as…”? It just got a whole lot worse.
Recent additions to “the OED” (does everything need an acronym?) include LOL, ego-surf, and smack talk. I gave the monitor the evil eye as I scrolled down the list of newly added and updated terms. Now these words that will almost certainly fall out of style are cemented in our language (oed.com says that entries are never deleted).
What about this bothers me so much?
Is it the part of me that resembles my mother, the English professor? Is it the fact that pre-teens, who don’t even know much about already-accepted English words, are now making up new, supposedly legitimate ones? Is it the Dictionary’s willingness to submit to pop culture, possibly as a lame PR move? Or is it the fact that terms coined on “the interwebz” were never supposed to be formal words?
No matter what the reason—I think it’s a bit of all of the above, though—I’m disappointed. The dictionary authors may be well educated in linguistics, but they have a funny way of showing it. I wish I could say something positive in this post, but I don’t see the silver lining. It seems that the “proper” dictionaries are becoming a tame version of urbandictionary.com, and no one has much use for that.
It is my opinion that language is the backbone of a culture. It provides a means for communication, law, historical records, and art. I’m afraid that if English continues to take a beating, our culture might suffer along with it.