First I'd like to make a formal apology to the ghosts of William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, George and Charles Merriam, and Ambrose Bierce: We're sorry for what we've done to your language. Please forgive us.
The Oxford Dictionaries Online has announced new
editions additions to its roster for 2013. At least a quarter of them come straight out of Geekville, either from common use online or via SMS texting.
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The ODO is not to be confused with the Oxford English Dictionary, the official keeper of English words. If the OED is your blue-haired dowager aunt, the ODO is more like your gratuitously tattooed teenage niece. It's really a G-rated version of various urban dictionaries that abound across the Webbernets (sadly, a word that is not in the ODO). Still, it's a stepping stone to official sanction in the OED.
Siraj Datoo at Quartz has the full lineup of new verbiage, along with their definitions. Thanks to Miley Cyrus, even your grandmother probably knows what "twerk" now means ("dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance"). Now we'll do our best to try and wipe that image from our minds.
Geek grammar police
Here are some of the more egregious geek-inspired entries:
Phablet. Yes, the unholy marriage of "tablet" and "phone" has been officially anointed, despite my many loud protestations. (So far, though, stablets, fliplets, and snaplets have yet to make an appearance in the ODO.)
Selfie: Apparently this is the real reason Philippe Kahn invented the cellphone camera -- so teenage girls could snap photos of themselves and post them online, much to the horror of their parents.
Unlike: To remove your mark of approval from something you had previously Liked. Not to be confused with "dislike," something you never cared for in the first place. Damn you Mark Zuckerberg. Damn you to hell.
Then there's "derp" (to comment on something stupid or foolish), "squee" (to exclaim in great delight or excitement), "srsly" (short for "seriously"), and "TL;DR" (too long; didn't read). All have their roots in textspeak and online comments.
Not all of the 2013 words are cringe-inducing or even unfamiliar. "BYOD" made it, as did the "Internet of things," "Bitcoin," and "emoji." And some of these newish words I actually like.
Context is king
There's "omnishambles," which was named Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2012 and is defined thusly: "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations."
For example "Steve Ballmer's reign at Microsoft is an omnishambles of epic proportions."
Or "hackerspace," defined as "a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge."
As in, "Some days it feels like the entire Internet is one big hackerspace."
(Yes, I know -- if this one were on the SATs, I would probably not receive credit for that. It's still true, though.)
Then there's the oppositional pair of "digital detox" (a period of time where one refrains from using smartphones or computers to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world) and "FOMO" (fear of missing out -- anxiety that an exciting event may currently be happening elsewhere, aroused by posts seen on a social media website).
"I could really use a digital detox, but my FOMO won't let me."
I get it. Language is like a shark -- it must keep moving forward or it will die. And many great new terms make it into the lexicon each year.
But some of these new words? They srsly make me want to vom.
Which tech terms rub you the write or wrong way? Post your raves and faves below or email me: email@example.com.
This article, "It's official: We all speak geek now," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.