Language Uncategorized Writing


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 ( 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, 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.

2 replies on “OMG WTF LOL”

Wow, I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, it’s “teh interwebz.” Second of all, language is a vibrant, living, changing, evolving thing. It will always bear the influences of new technologies, different cultures, and evolving forms of artistic expression. The fallacy here is that the OED is some sort of official gatekeeper of “formal words” rather than a chronicler of what already is. Keep in mind, Shakespeare was once pop culture, too. True, one hundred years from now, they may have to add the “archaic” tag to the entry for LOL, but LOL is certainly something that should be documented so that posterity can understand early 21st century American culture.

Don’t worry, Emily. The kids are alright. I work with an office full of them.

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