Thursday, April 14, 2011
OMG, did you see the latest Oxford English Dictionary update?
I did, and it made my word-loving heart break a little.
LOL, ♥ and OMG are among the latest additions to the book that calls itself “the definitive record of the English language.”
WTF, one of those doesn’t even contain any letters, it’s a symbol.
I’m guilty of using some of these abbreviations in my life on a rare occasion, and I know their use is growing, but I would never consider them to be “real” words.
Perhaps some folks don’t know what these terms mean, but that’s what Urban Dictionary is for. The OED doesn’t need to legitimize their use and let people think it’s OK to use these “words” outside of casual settings.
I understand that language evolves and changes over time, but at what point is it considered growth and at what point is it considered getting caught up in a trend? Just because Michael Jackson and Roxy Music did it doesn’t mean everyone else is cool enough to pull it off, too.
Personally, I like the idea of preserving language. Colloquialisms might be commonly used, but it doesn’t mean they’re right. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to David Mitchell (the actor, not the author, but a lover of language all the same):
The Associated Press thankfully tries to keep things logical. In the latest update, the word “email” ditched the old hyphen. And it makes sense—AP generally says to get rid of unnecessary punctuation, and this change falls in line with that mode of thinking.
But when these changes occur, the next issue is to address when to start adopting the changes. Immediately? No, it doesn’t make sense to change usage halfway through a project just because AP dictates it should be so. The whole point of preservation of language is to maintain consistency.
So for a little while longer, I’ll might still use e-mail instead of email, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. And despite what the dictionary says, I can’t use OMG without a hint of irony.