Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Oxford English Dictionary has gone loco!

OMG! Did you hear about the tanorexic gazillionaire who was wearing a mankini over budgie smugglers while having a looky-loo at the bajillion retweets on Twitter? Fnarr fnarr! At the same time, he was eating a sammie, muttering “nom nom”. TMI for you?
It’s a sad day for grammarians when the Oxford English Dictionary adds words that usually only form part of a teenager’s vocabulary to its official lexicon. It’s an even worse day when it accepts SMS acronyms as proper words. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is now acceptable to use LOL and OMG in every-day writing.
While we at COUP are thrilled at the addition of words such as ‘bloggable’ and ‘retweet’, we cry quietly at the thought of SMS-speak tainting our copy.
Funnily enough, I recently wrote a university assignment on whether language practitioners felt that the enforcement of correct language usage was good or bad. One of the focus areas was the use of SMS-speak in areas other than the cellphone. Not surprisingly, just about all the respondents vehemently opposed its use – some believe it doesn’t even belong in SMSes. COUP Content Editor, Marie Straub, said, “SMS speak is a pet hate of mine. I even avoid it when SMSing. I don’t think it is acceptable outside of SMSing. Also, with a vast number of young people using SMS- and internet-speak in their online communications (which are increasing all the time), their grammar is suffering, with spelling following fast behind.” Kerryn le Cordeur, Deputy Editor of Media Update, believes SMS-speak “dumbs down” communication; while Bronwyn Raitt, a teacher, believes that SMS-speak is making people lazy and that it is a disgrace to the English language. Another concern raised by language practitioner Kate Wright is that the addition of ‘OMG’ to the Dictionary somehow made blasphemy acceptable, too.
I tend to agree with all of the above.
On the other hand, should we not be happy that our wonderful language is changing with the times and is accommodating new terms and phrases? Being a language practitioner myself, I might come across as biased when I say that the addition of new words thrills me – provided they are useful! Andragogy, avoision, calligram, recessionista (look them up) – all new words added to the Dictionary and all excellent! However, when it comes to boo-yah and woot, I feel the need to assume the foetal position and rock slowly from side-to-side.
What are your thoughts? A boon for the English language or the beginning of the end of a literate society?

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