Friday, June 26, 2015

Meh, OED Adds 500 New Words

It really must be my birthday.

I mean, it is — I turned 48 last Saturday. Or as I'm now calling it "nearly f---ing fifty." In fact, that's going to be my response when people ask my age: nearly f---ing fifty.

I just hope no one asks me at church.

But for my birthday, the Oxford English Dictionary (official motto: "Making you smarter for one hundred f---ing fifty years!") has added 500 new words and definitions to their pages.

This kind of linguistic largesse usually only happens at the beginning of each year, when Lake Superior State University releases its List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

And since the list was released two days before my birthday, I'm counting this as the best present the OED could ever give me (unless they want to give me an online subscription).

To understand what this list means, it's important to know the difference between descriptive and proscriptive dictionaries.

A proscriptive dictionary tells you how a word should be used, a descriptive dictionary tells you how it is used. The OED is descriptive in nature, which means that it reflects society's language usage, not the proper way to do things.

That is, just because they included a word that makes you want to neck punch somebody doesn't mean it's now a "real word." It just means it's being used by hundreds of thousands of people, probably incorrectly.

Just please don't neck punch them.

They've added words like "barong tagalog" (the national shirt of the Philippines), "injera" (a white crepe-like bread from Ethiopia), and "utang na loob" (a Filipino term meaning debt of gratitude), which I assume you're owed if you give someone your barong tagalog.

But it's not like we use those words on a daily basis, so you may be kind of "meh" about the whole thing. At least now you can be, now that the OED added the term popularized on The Simpsons years ago. (They also added it seven years after the Collins English dictionary did, but you can't rush these things.)

However, they did add words like "lipstick" (the triple 20 on a dartboard), "stagette" (a Canadian bachelorette party), and "bush tucker" (uncooked food eaten by Australian aborigines).

My goal in life is to now use all three of these terms in a sentence correctly.

Of course, nobody ever accused the OED of being up on slang, as evidenced by the addition of "jeggings," the tight jean leggings hipsters wear when they want people to hate them.

The opposite of jeggings is the "skort," another OED addition. The skort is a combination of the words skirt and shorts. It's a pair of shorts with a flap of fabric over the front, so it looks like a skirt. It's fashion's version of the mullet — cocktail party in the front, volleyball game in the back.

Of course, I don't understand most fashion trends, and I'm not one to try to keep up with them. I don't suffer from "FOMO," the fear of missing out. When you're nearly f---ing fifty, you quit trying to keep up with fashion trends, and just spend your time saying nasty things about hipsters, secretly jealous that you couldn't fit your arm into a pair of jeggings.

"Fo' shizzle" finally made the OED, almost 13 years after added it. The term means "For sure," and was used by rappers like Snoop Dogg. Thirteen years later, someone at the OED finally got off their asizzle, and here we are.

The one problem with the OED being a descriptive dictionary is that it's free to include words that aren't words. That's why I'm not very happy about the OED's inclusion of the word "buko." Pronounced "BOO-ko," it's a slang term for "a lot" or "much," as in "I ate buko pizza."

Except it's derived from the French word, "beaucoup" (pronounced bo-KOO), which means it's pronounced completely wrong.

(Say it with me: "I will not punch people in the neck. I will not punch people in the neck.")

Buko is also a traditional Filipino custard pie made from young coconuts, but I don't think that's what the OED had in mind. Although now all I can think of is a bunch of Filipino kids saying they ate "buko buko," which actually sounds pretty good. I wonder if I can get some for my birthday.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's my bed time. I need to get to bed so I can get up early and make my "go-juice" (morning cup of coffee), so I won't "drumble" (be sluggish) the next morning.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

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