And The World Changes Language!
You could say the line between urbandictionary.com and dictionary.com is getting confuzzled. You could get lucky coming up with words that might (??) be legally played against your competitive grandma on Words With Friends. You may realize as society changes, so does our language. But, what earns a term its place in a dictionary of English language?
Words have emerged from all corners of our culture and into the dictionary. Remember, words are tools or toys; we make them, use them, and change them. There are little Shakespeares all over the internet making up words right now. A word or term gets into the dictionary when enough people use it over and over again. They catch on, like Shakespeare’s “priceless” “never-ending” “day’s work.”
Oftentimes new terms are created by being compounded or combined with others. Technology has given us new words we need for all our modern habits like “binge-watch,” “selfie,” and “listicle.” Your online dictionary can now clarify the meaning of popular terms like “self-care,” “woke,” or “cray” (also “cray cray”).
Of course, politics call for new terms that come to stay, like, recently, “truthers,” “safe-spaces,” and “first world problems.” Our dictionaries also reflect how personal relationships have changed. Enough people have been “ghosted,” “friend-zoned,” and “sexted” to go ahead and look up what those mean. Head of US Dictionaries, Katherine Connor Martin, says the vocabulary of gender and sexuality has largely expanded “to reflect more complex understandings of this aspect of the human experience.” Consult your dictionary to define “cisgender” or “sociosexual.” Philosophers even still contribute new definitions; recently, the Oxford English Dictionary added “whataboutery,” sometimes called, “whataboutism.”
Like every age before us, our language reflects our culture, and so do our classic and digital dictionaries.
October 18, 2018
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