The English language is a living, breathing organism.
It began as a massive conglomeration of earlier languages and it continues to evolve in order to adapt to the spoken language of the time. The rules of grammar don’t always make sense, pronunciation of some words can be a struggle for even the most experienced wordsmith and young people continue to confound the rest of us with their new words and phrases.
But it suits us well.
We have come to accept slang and jargon into our lexicon because, well, we use an awful lot of slang and jargon. Though we bemoan when people or groups “make up words” in their conversations, we also eventually accept these words when they truly begin to integrate themselves into everyday language.
And there is no better barometer for the acceptance of words than the Oxford American Dictionary.
Each year, the Oxford dictionary opens up its pages to legitimize new words into the accepted practice of utilizing the English language. The dictionary itself is adapting to modern times as it has recently said the 126-year-old book is considering going all digital for its next edition, and that digital age it is exploring has offered up many of the new words included in its pages this year.
For instance, the Oxford American Dictionary now accepts “BFF” as a legitimate word. The word has been used for several years now, both in Internet shorthand and spoken language, to represent “best friends forever.” Yes, it’s most often used by teenage girls and Bob Bertram, but it has been utilized enough that many people who here it understand its meaning immediately. And now I have an excuse to use it in Scrabble. Let’s see, a “double word” score and a “triple letter” for one of the “F”s would give me 30 points if I’m counting that right, which would give me a fighting chance to finally beat that stupid computer on my iPhone app. My God, that thing continues to light me up and ...
But I digress.
Another word that makes the cut this year is “Defriend.” This typically refers to somebody deleting somebody else from his or her friends list on Facebook. This would seem to be a pretty benign act for someone to commit, but people do indeed get caught up in it and can get their feelings hurt. Keep that in mind before you defriend your BFF.
Wow, it felt good to use those words without quotation marks. Defriend your BFF. Now you try it. See? Fun.
Another word that has long been popular in the online world, but has now achieved Oxford’s stamp of legitimacy, is “LMAO” — roughly translated to “laughing my tushy off.” This is used to react when somebody says something particularly funny online, or if laughter indeed caused a spontaneous rumparectomy.
It wasn’t all about technology with this year’s list of new English words. The term “tramp stamp” can now be used in accepted English, and I think the world is a little better today because of it. For those of you who don’t know, a tramp stamp is a tattoo a woman gets on her lower back. I say “woman” because that is where it’s most commonly seen, but I would assume that goes for men, too. But, guys, don’t get a tramp stamp. It only opens the door for ridicule.
If you do, I will be LMAO, and you probably wouldn’t want to be my BFF anymore for doing so.