Perfect lexicographical storms don't come along like this very often. On Sunday night, Miley Cyrus egregiously "twerked" at MTV's Video Music Awards, in a performance that quickly became National Conversation #1 (even outpacing Syria). About 48 hours later, Oxford Dictionaries announced its quarterly update of new words — with the Associated Press and others trumpeting the news far and wide — and lo and behold, there was twerk, defined as a verb meaning "dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance."
Archive for Neologisms
Here are two anniversarial tweets that appeared Friday evening. The first is from the WhiteHouse.gov Technology account, celebrating the anniversary of the release of the source code for We the People:
— WH.gov Technology (@WHWeb) August 23, 2013
BTW, little secret: TODAY is the 6th #hashtagiversary. I totally punk'd CNBC. DON'T TELL ANYONE!!!!!!!
— Chris Messina™ (@chrismessina) August 24, 2013
(Messina didn't actually coin hashtag on that fateful day in 2007 — that was done a few days later by Stowe Boyd, another early Twitter adopter. See the Spring 2013 installment of "Among the New Words" in American Speech [pdf], which I co-wrote with Charles Carson, as well as Boyd's own recent post on the subject.)
The fabrication of "taikonaut" is not the first time that an attempt has been made to insert a made-up Chinglish word into English. There have been a number of such instances in recent years. A particularly notorious one that I recall is the case of bùgěilì 不给力 ("ungelivable", lamer variant "ungeliable"). Bùgěilì 不给力 is the antonym of gěilì 给力 ("astonishing, powerful, fantastic, cool, awesome, exciting, effective, enhancing"). The wide range of meanings and nuances for gěilì 给力 does not bode well for an easy translation of its opposite, bùgěilì 不给力, into other languages. I shall return to the meaning and translation of bùgěilì 不给力 below. But first let's take a closer look at gěilì 给力. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »