The Null Device

The intoxicating vitality of English

It looks like the major dictionaries are trying to outdo each other at being hip and up-to-the-minute and savvy to the latest street lingo. A while ago, the OED added a raft of neologisms including "bling-bling" and now the Collins English Dictionary has published its list of new words. As well as cultural phenomena ("Sars", "quidditch") there are neonconservative coinages (such as "regime change" and "road map"), SMS abbreviations ("gr8", "want 2tlk"), definitional terms for new aspirational classes ("yetties", "nylons") and even words scraped from WIRED Magazine's made-up jargon columns, like "idea hamster". (Come on; did anybody ever use the phrase "idea hamster" in a non-ironic sense?)

There are 11 comments on "The intoxicating vitality of English":

Posted by: Graham http:// Thu Jun 26 12:54:00 2003

Re: your first sentence, the dictionaries wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't. English isn't French, you know...

Posted by: acb Thu Jun 26 23:24:13 2003

Except when they put in words which few people if anyone actually uses, like "idea hamster".

Posted by: Graham Fri Jun 27 01:15:16 2003

Covering all contingencies, I guess. WTF is an "idea hamster"?

Posted by: dj http:// Fri Jun 27 01:32:14 2003

A figment of your imagination that says "have we got a video!?"

Posted by: acb Fri Jun 27 01:44:18 2003

WIRED said it's someone at work (or wherever) who just keeps coming up with ideas. Or what corporate types call "a creative".

Posted by: acb Fri Jun 27 01:46:54 2003

My point is that some of the words there seem rather suspect, and it seems like the lexicographers are pulling an Eric S. Raymond and trying to pass their own pet coinages off as popular usage.

I wonder how long until "doovy" or "pfaknok" appears in the OED.

Posted by: dj http:// Fri Jun 27 05:55:32 2003

What about adding the following for pillow?

v. to pillow - to perform in a manner which is deemed indadequate and lacking in character, or soft (cf.).

In the years before they won the premiership, we used to refer to the Crows as the Tontine Pillows, because they were guaranteed to pillow.

Posted by: Graham Fri Jun 27 07:30:26 2003

When 50 Cent starts using the word "bootywhang", my work on this planet will have been done.

Posted by: acb Fri Jun 27 07:32:17 2003

Are you sure George Clinton or Bootsy Collins hasn't already used it?

Posted by: dj http:// Sat Jun 28 12:47:58 2003

i like bootywhang, what a mega word.

Posted by: acb Sat Jun 28 15:14:34 2003

Don't we all?

Want to say something? Do so here.

Post pseudonymously

Display name:
To prove that you are not a bot, please enter the text in the image into the field below it.

Your Comment:

Please keep comments on topic and to the point. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.

Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links.