Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oxford English Dictionary, OMG! Wassup with these new entries?

The venerable lexicon has betrayed word-lovers everywhere, as well as its hallowed heritage, IMHO.

A few months ago I went on a little rant about how silly it was that the New Oxford American Dictionary was adding words like “BFF,” “zombie bank” and “nom nom” to its definitions. But really, it was the American version, the same country that produced the all-you-can-eat buffet, ’80s hair band Poison and Charlie Sheen, so it’s not as though I had high expectations from the start.

But England? I expect way more from the country that was home to my beloved Jane Austen and still has the Queen Mum and residents with the loveliest accents ever. (Admit it Americans: They could be speaking utter rubbish and still sound smarter than we do.)

So when the Oxford English Dictionary, the most authoritative lexicon anywhere, recently announced the new additions to its good book, I was a bit gobsmacked.

The first new entry that caught my attention: OMG! the abbreviated phrase for “Oh, my God!” They explain the addition by writing that online “initialisms” are quicker to type, giving those texters and tweeters even more time to text and tweet meaningless things to one another.

Keep in mind that the exclamation point is part of the package…so OMG alone didn’t make the cut, but OMG! pressed its way to the head of the line.

Another new initialism added to the hallowed book is IMHO, which stands for “in my humble opinion.” Problem is the same generation that uses these words is anything but humble. These are the kids who have been told by everyone from their mother to Cookie Monster that they are the most special person out there (do the math—not possible). This makes them deluded enough to think it’s important for their “audience” to keep up with their earth-shattering tweets, which consist of “I am at the vet with FuFu,” “Sad day for me ” or “Stomach flu—never good.”

Really, it’s not a matter of humility as much as it is just TMI. (TMI= “too much information,” incidentally; it’s also been added to the dictionary. Don’t get me started.)

Another new word? “Ego-surfing,” defined as the practice of searching for your own name on the Internet. (Please see section on “humility,” above.)

Perhaps the epitome of sloth (or brevity, depending on how you look at it) is the inclusion of the symbol ♥ to the dictionary. It’s a verb, by the way. The last time I checked, I thought each entry had to be a word, but now even Prince has a shot at getting his symbol in, the one that stands for “The artist formerly known as Prince.” All bets are off at this point.

This rant would not be complete without the most cringe-inducing entry: wassup, a corruption of the phrase “What’s up?”

I have no words…

I’m just certain that somewhere in England, Jane Austen is weeping in her grave (whilst playing the pianoforte, of course).

Hey, England! Wassup with this new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary? Let’s cut a deal: You can have Charlie Sheen. We want our dictionary back.

Eileen Burmeister lives, works and rants about language in Roseburg, Ore. She can be reached at burmeistereileen@gmail.com.

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