I love languages – the sounds, the nuances, the connections to other cultures, the evolution of words over the centuries. If I could divide my brain into yet another compartment, I’d study linguistics, the origins of words, Latin…
Which is why the annual Oxford Dictionary “new” words interest me so. These are the words that define our culture today, that people in the future will look at and wonder WT#*?
But lest you think the venerable OED and its modern English version, Oxford Dictionary Online*, simply draw words out of a hat, consider this:
“In previous centuries dictionaries tended to contain lists of words that their writers thought might be useful, even if there was no evidence that anyone had ever actually used these words. This is not the case today. New terms have to be recorded in a print or online source before they can be considered.”
According to MentalFloss.com (a great site!), Oxford Dictionaries released 1,000 new words recently, and these are my absolute favorites:
al desko: A play on al fresco, which means “dining outside,” this word is perfect for the way we live now, wolfing down food at our desks while messing around on the computer.
mamil: Stands for “middle aged man in Lycra” and has to do with the current cycling craze. Observe the mamil in his natural habitat. His bike is expensive and his outfit is way more professional than it has to be.
They also included “lolcat” (seriously?!), “duckface” (I still don’t get that one), and “Obamacare” among the newbies.
For a longer, more humorous take on the English language, I love to dip into Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my al desko.
*”The OED and the dictionaries in Oxford Dictionaries are themselves very different. While Oxford Dictionaries focuses on the current language and practical usage, the OED shows how words and meanings have changed over time.”