Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Please forgive the Biblical reference, but I think there’s been an error of truly Chuck-Heston-ish* proportions in recent Oxford Dictionaries Online. The venerated gatekeeper of proper English syntax has apparently bowed to peer pressure or the yearning to be more “relevant.” According to an article in Time NewsFeed, Oxford has added some popular online and texting “words” that are not words. Examples include:

Certain words now, according to Oxford, have new uses, such as vote (to dismiss or reject someone), inbox (to send a private message or e-mail to someone), and douche (an obnoxious or contemptible person).

There were other inclusions, that while funny, stretch the bounds of legitimacy, such as micro pig and soul patch.

However, I resolutely stand by my conviction that dictionaries shouldn’t include slang and jargon. That’s what the Urban Dictionary is for. After all, in ten years “inbox,” either as a noun or a verb, may be as laughably outdated as legwarmers.

Lexicographers, grammarians, and logophiles, I want to hear your thoughts on this. Is the Oxford Dictionaries Online going too far? Or is it fair game to update language with trendy words and phrases?

Note: the blog Acculturated has an interesting symposium on this very topic, including How Technology Democratizes and Degrades Writing and The Regrettable Rise of OMG.

*See? Made-up words are stupid.


One thought on “Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

  1. Pingback: More “Crowdsourcing” the English Language | Nerdy Words

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