It’s that time of year again. No, I don’t mean back-to-school time. I don’t even mean college football season. Of course I’m talking about the time of year when Oxford publishes its list of words added to the online dictionary.
And once again I am left sitting at my desk, head in my hands, weeping for the future of the English language. You think I’m overreacting? Tell that to the tweep with the ridic soul patch who has a hella nerve asking for a group hug. Yes, all of those words and phrases in that preceding sentence are now part of our lexicon at oxforddictionaries.com.
Let’s take them one at a time:
• Date night, n.: “A prearranged occasion on which an established couple, especially one with children, go for a night out together.” Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure we’ve already cemented the meanings of “date” and “night.” So couldn’t we have figured out the meaning of that compound word using nothing more than our wits?
• Hackathon, n.: “An event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.” So it’s like a dance-a-thon only easier on the feet. And less festive.
• Hella, adv.: “Extremely; a large amount.” For example, that’s a hella stupid word you’re adding to the dictionary.
• Inbox, v.: “Send a private message or an email to someone.” Fair enough. We all use it when we’re talking about our email, so I see how this should become part of the dictionary. Well played, Oxford.
• Lifecasting, n.: Defines “the practice of broadcasting a continuous live flow of video material on the Internet which documents one’s day-to-day activities.” I think we call that “Jersey Shore” and “The Kardashians” and they’re horrible. Why encourage more of the same by giving them an official word? If it’s a word or phrase you’re after, I think the more appropriate would be “train wreck.”
• Lolz, pl. n.: “Fun, laughter or amusement.” It was depressing enough when they added LOL (laugh out loud) a few years ago, especially because an entire generation of senior citizens thought it meant “lots of love.” This lead to disastrous misunderstandings, such as sympathy cards that were signed “I’m so sorry for your loss. LOL.”
• Micro pig, n.: “A pig of a very small, docile, hairless variety, sometimes kept as a pet.” Um, haven’t we successfully described that as a “small pig” for years?
• Mwahahahaha, exclamation: “Used to represent laughter, especially manic or cackling laughter such as that uttered by a villainous character in a cartoon or comic strip.” I have no words.
• OH, n.: “A person’s wife, husband, or partner (used in electronic communication).” This one is wrong on many levels. First, as an Ohio native, it’s just confusing. Second, what does OH stand for? It doesn’t say in the entry. Old hag? Ornery hooligan? I’m left with more questions than answers.
• Photobomb, v.: “Spoil a photograph by suddenly appearing in the camera’s field of view as the picture is taken, typically as a prank or practical joke.” In my day, we simply called that “Cousin Jerry being a jerk again.” Now I know the appropriate word to use.
• Ridic, adj: “Ridiculous.” So let me get this straight. Instead of saying “laugh out loud” you say LOL (which is still three syllables, so you’re not making life any easier, I might point out). And instead of saying something is ridiculous, you get the first part out and just stop. Are you so apathetic that you don’t even have the energy to finish the word? Whatev.
And there are more. I just can’t bring myself to go on. You can see the entire list at oxforddictionaries.com if you can stomach it.
Why do I revere the dictionary so much that these additions make me cringe? Because my mom treated it like the Bible. Growing up, if we asked my mom what a word meant, she’d say, “Look it up in the dictionary” in her best Moses voice. It was most-used book in our home. The dictionary held all sorts of meanings, universes, ideas and helped explain the world around us. And I’m not seeing how “mwahahahaha” helps further explain the world around us.
In fact, I think it’s ridic and it makes me LOLZ.
Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer in Winchester, Ore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.