Another month, another list of new words in an English dictionary. The constant change in lexicography has Martin Hesp reaching for a ‘dirty martini’.
Fancy a takeaway? I don't mean something with chips – we're talking about a new noun that refers to a key fact, point, or idea to be remembered. This new usage is probably enough to cause a bit of lolz. You might even be reduced to rolling around with mwahahaha. It would certainly have me gently stroking my soul-patch. Or, at least, it would – if I had a small tuft of facial hair directly below my lower lip.
Which I haven't. And that, I imagine, means I'm a bit of a douche. I may as well be covered in vajazzle, because I'm certainly not ripped.Oh all right, I'll desist from this gobbledygook. But in doing so I will just say that, officially speaking, it's not nonsense at all.
All the words above which might confuse you (they certainly did me) feature in Oxford University Press's latest quarterly update of its Oxford Dictionary Online.
Call me past-it – accuse me of being stuck-in-mental-mud – but I will probably always associate the relatively modern term "takeaway" with fast food and so will never use it as a noun to describe a fact that needs to be remembered.
As for lolz, I'll probably just stick with words like fun, laughter, or amusement. I know for absolute certain that I'll never adopt mwahahaha as a term for manic or cackling laughter – although, I do agree with the dictionary that it sounds right for the kind of laughter howled by a "villainous character in a cartoon or comic strip".
But I'm guessing not many Western Morning News readers will be getting out the vajazzle any time soon. In case you wondered, it means to "adorn the pubic area (of a woman) with crystals, glitter, or other decoration."
The only word in the new list that I've heard of in the modern sense is douche – and only then because I watched a television documentary about rap music in which many of the interviewees used it to describe an obnoxious or contemptible person.
New words adopted by the latest dictionaries offer newspaper columnists a favourite perennial – although I don't know whether to be glad or sad when I realise that, when the old chestnut comes around the bosses at the WMN always call upon me to harrumph and despair.
The first thing I always say is: yes, of course it is a good thing that the language is growing and changing because that's what makes it a fascinating, living, code.
But – and it's a big but – there are times when I envy my grandfather's generation. It may have been a hard life out there on the fields of the Somerset Levels in the bad old days when winters were winters and the annual floods iced everything lock stock and barrel – but at least very little changed and you knew where you stood.
My grandfather's first childhood job was that of bird-scarer – all he needed to know was that birds were bad and that chucking stones and making a noise would frighten them away. Compare that to most modern jobs. A great many of them are based on communication – and that, as we constantly witness, is overtaken by a tsunami of new words and phrases.
Some we do have to get to grips with as modern technologies overtake us. And so we probably do need "tweeps" which, as you'll know, are a person's followers on the social networking site Twitter. A Wikipedian is, of course, someone who contributes to the collaboratively written online encyclopaedia Wikipedia on a regular basis.
But do we really need "lifecasting"? I think not – and I will tell you why. Because it means: "The practice of broadcasting a continuous live flow of video material on the internet which documents one's day-to-day activities."
Why would anyone want to do such a thing? What an utter waste of time. Can you imagine someone like my granddad lifecasting? "Just thrown a stone at a flock of birds. Went to sleep. Threw a few more stones. Chased a pigeon. Went to sleep. Made a noise to frighten away the rooks." Actually, I could perhaps get into watching that. It would be better than having to learn all these dreadful new words, most of which will be out of use before you can chase off a pigeon.
Here are some exciting new dictionary words that I reported on in a similar WMN opinion piece just five years ago – heaviosity, ya-yas, charette, garburator, webinar, biffy, smoosh, bragbook, fruit-loop, wairua, semifreddo, digestivo, acai, pastilla and piquillo. How many in that list are now in common parlance?
So excuse me if I go off now on a "date night" (prearranged occasion on which an established couple go for a night out) with my missus and sink a couple of "dirty martinis" (new phrase for a cocktail made with gin or vodka, dry vermouth, and a small amount of olive brine, typically garnished with a green olive). That beats lifecasting or stroking one's soul patch.