The English language's Twitter feed

« previous post | next post »

I have a piece on Fresh Air today, behind the curve as usual, on the discussion that followed the Oxford Dictionary Online's inclusion of twerk, which Ben Zimmer covered in a post a couple of weeks ago ("Getting worked up over 'twerk'"). Actually I don't care much about twerk, whose coolness and credentials Ben defended definitively. But I think it's worth looking at the whole list of new words that appeared on the ODO blog post announcing the quarterly update, headed "Buzzworthy words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online – squee!":

apols, A/W (“autumn/winter”), babymoon, balayage (“a technique for highlighting hair”), bitcoin, blondie (small cake), buzzworthy, BYOD (“bring your own device”), cake pop, chandelier earring, child’s pose (yoga), click and collect, dad dancing, dappy, derp, digital detox, double denim, emoji, fauxhawk, FIL (“father-in-law”), flatform (shoe), FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out”), food baby (“a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food”), geek chic, girl crush, grats, guac, hackerspace, Internet of things, jorts, LDR, me time, michelada (“drink made with beer, lime juice…”), MOOC, Nordic noir, omnishambles, pear cider[see comment below], phablet, pixie cut, prep (v. “prepare”), selfie, space tourism, squee, srsly, street food, TL;DR, trolly dash (UK supermarket promotion), twerk, unlike (v.), vom (“vomit”)

I’ve bolded the ones that seem to me to have a chance of being still current by the end of the decade, including a few that have been around for quite a while. Some of this is pure guesswork (if you have inside knowledge about bitcoin, let me know) and others may scrape by, but it's a fair bet that the vast majority are not going to survive your hamster.

Yet the list is striking not just for its ephemerality but for its faddishness. Given that these were selected from among hundreds of new words (going by the ODO's estimate of 1000 new words a year), most of which are solid contributions to the language, it’s hard to believe the editors weren’t ever so slightly trolling for yawps. As I put it:

Of course this is not your grandfather’s English language, that stream of the Great Tradition with rows of folio dictionaries protecting its banks. As people are always saying, the language is a living, growing thing. But then, so is Houston. It’s all good, I agree. But looking over the new word lists, I can’t help thinking, “Is that it? Srsly?” A language is just the things we want to say, and if you took those lists as representative, you’d conclude there’s never been an age whose conversation was as crass and trifling as ours is.

Should the words all have been included? For sure—and kept in, even after they’ve vanished from view. (Oxford makes a point of noting that the ODO is not the OED, from which words can never be removed. But why take anything out of the ODO, either? It’s not as if they need the disk space. Why remove twerk, even when it has passed on the to the land of forgotten dance styles? I mean, they’ve still got turkey trot.)

Of course all dictionaries emphasize items like these in their new word press releases, which is understandable. They’re after buzz, and these are the words that make for the most arresting headlines— “It’s official! Oxford declares ‘selfie’ a real word!” And while lexicographers disavow any official role, they know perfectly well that the only reason the announcements get picked up is that people still believe that a dictionary’s inclusion of a word confers legitimacy on it. As Oxford’s Jesse Sheidlower said, making a point that’s notable only for the infrequency with which modern lexicographers are willing to acknowledge it, “You look something up in a dictionary to get some indication that the word is approved.”

Lexicographers like to suggest that their decisions about inclusion are made on the basis of objective criteria—“independent evidence from a range of sources to be confident that they have widespread currency in English,” as Angus Stevenson of ODO puts it. But we all know that there is no quantitative measure of “currency” that tells us when to count a word as being part of a language that “shades off on all sides, through zones of decreasing brightness, to a dim marginal film that seems to end nowhere,” as someone said.

But what’s significant here isn’t the totality of new words included but the selection of the ones to be showcased. And while PR obviously played a role here—and what's wrong with that?—both the size and pervasive ephemerality of Oxford’s new list suggest that it’s a genuine reflection of the editors’ picture of the forces that are most important and influential in shaping the language today. In part, no doubt, this reflects the editors’ own preoccupations; these are the items that generate the most buzz when they get home from work, too. But I think it’s also an artifact of the illusion of totality that the Internet encourages. As I put it in the piece, "For the word nerds who write dictionaries, it's a new dawn, and bliss to be online. The Internet seems to put the whole of the language at your fingertips, effacing all the old boundaries in the process."

The problem isn't with the language itself, though, but the window we're seeing it through. In its very abundance, the Internet turns out to be as selective a filter as the old dictionaries ever were. It foregrounds the stunt words cooked up by the media, the marketers and the techies, the portmanteau blends like "jeggings," "appletini" and "splog." It amplifies the language of the very young — partly because they're more inventive, but also because they dominate the online conversation, and because everybody wants know what they saying at the cool kids' table.

At the same time, the Internet gives short shrift to the language of whole populations who don't happen to transact their conversations on Reddit or Tumblr. And the fascination with novel words tends to eclipse the subtle changes in the meanings of old ones, which are often more consequential.

That's where you find the most striking omissions in dictionaries. The OED still doesn't have an entry for the modern meaning of "demonize," as in "they demonized the bankers," and it still defines a "couple" as "a man and woman united by love or marriage."

And no dictionary I know of gives a definition for "slur" as in "racial slur," to refer to a word that disparages somebody on the basis of traits such as race, ethnicity, or gender. That new use of "slur" goes back half a century. But it doesn't jump out at you the way novelties like "squadoosh" and "twerk" do.

What we get from the Internet isn't a Google Earth view of the entire language. It's more like a screenshot of its Twitter feed.

Now you could argue that the last bit here is somewhat unfair. The ODO and the OED are different things, and the process of updating the latter—collecting and adding citations, redefining and reorganizing senses, among other things—is a Herculean task that has been under way for a long time. Still, words like couple and demonize figure at the heart of our cultural conversation, and ought to be prime candidates for “out-of-sequence” definition (the problem with couple has been out there for a least a decade). And different divisions or no, it’s striking that Oxford dictionaries offer defintions of selfie and jorts but are still telling readers that a couple (in the relevant sense) has to consist of a man and woman. Live by the brand….

The universal absence of a modern definition for slur is even more telling. The OED’s definition was last revised in 1915 and gives as the closest sense “an expression or suggestion of disparagement or reproof.” But other dictionaries compiled much later than that also miss the use of the word for an offensive or insulting word referencing someone's race, gender etc. (the sense that figures in “he was fired for using a vile racial slur beginning with n”). The American Heritage defines it simply as “A disparaging remark; an aspersion” (though I’m assured that a new definition is in the works). Merriam’s gives “an insulting or disparaging remark or innuendo.” Needless to say, words like wop and fag are not aspersions, remarks, or innuendos, and slurs are specifically words that involve certain social categories. The new sense of slur first appeared in the African American press in the 1940s and was common in the mainstream media by the 1960’s—by now, this is the primary sense of the noun and even the only one that many people are familiar with. As linguistic changes go, it’s a lot more culturally significant than than the appearance of any of the new words on Oxford’s list, or of most of the new words cited in recent updates by other dictionaries. (In fact English never had a single word for this concept before.) How could every major dictionary have overlooked it for more than half a century? It may be that the answer is independent of dictionaries’ focus on linguistic novelties, but I doubt it. (There are plenty of other examples one could offer—slur isn't a special case.) Scouring the Internet is all well and good…

 

Share:



38 Comments »

  1. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

    Not only is "pear cider" not a recent coinage, a moment playing around with google books turns up an instance in print as far back as 1811. It's probably become more common as the beverage it describes has become less common, thereby making its traditional English name ("perry") obscure to the point of possible obsolescence. But the referent has been drunk by human beings for at least two millenia (Pliny's Natural History includes an opinion on which variety of pear is best suited for its production) and is drunk by Anglophones to this day (I buy a six-pack from time to time myself) and as long as it exists even as a niche product there will need to be a way of referring to it, so I think "pear cider" is going to be around for a comfortable number of decades/centuries/millenia into the future. Unless perhaps there's such a massive revival of the beverage's popularity that "perry" comes back into common use. It's sort of the polar opposite of "phablet" whose referent only recently came into being and may not still be in production a decade from now.
    GN: Makes sense. Not sure why I didn't bold it. Consider it done.

  2. cs said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

    tl;dr.

    I mean, that one isn't going away, in my opinion.

  3. mae said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    I'm confused by what's meant by "buzzworthy" — some of these words have been in common use for ages; others are clearly new since they refer to recent inventions.

    I found two references easily to words that didn't seem very new (though nothing as impressive as 1811). "Pixie cut" appeared in a New York Times article in 1962 and often afterwords (in my mind, was associated with Jean Seberg). "Blondies" seem like old news to me — a recipe appeared in Gourmet in 1992, but I seem to recall them earlier.

    So why are they in the same list as MOOC?

  4. Jonathan Mayhew said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    The dictionary on my compute, New Oxford Amerrican, gives the definition:

    an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation : the comments were a slur on the staff | a racial slur.

    I am bit puzzled why you say "And no dictionary I know of gives a definition for "slur" as in "racial slur," to refer to a word that disparages somebody on the basis of traits such as race, ethnicity, or gender."

  5. JS said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    Surely jorts dates back a decade or more? Not so much in print, of course… the ngrams numbers look mostly spurious.

  6. ===Dan said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    I learned of "blondie" –in the sense of a chocolate-free baked good that's not exactly like a brownie– in 1981 or 2.

    I was going to raise the question that Jonathan M did. Would you consider "idiot" to be a slur in a different sense of the word from that based on race etc.? What about "blondie?" or "Okie?" There's certainly a category of words that are offensive to mildly disparaging (to sometimes-affectionate), based on a whole lot of dimensions that may not coincide with typical "minorities" or protected classes. But I don't think I've noticed a distinction between that sense of the word "slur" and the sense containing other kinds of disparaging epithets.

  7. John said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    "Fauxhawk" has been around for well over a decade and feels dated–very odd that it's making this list now. I could see "michelada" taking off. They are delicious.

  8. Ben Zimmer said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    While you're right to fault the OED for being behind the times on "couple" and "demonize" (such is the fate of most early-in-the-alphabet entries), a Fresh Air listener might get the impression that OED editors haven't updated those words because they're too busy mining Twitter and Tumblr. The vast majority of dictionary updates, despite what makes the press releases, aren't shiny stunt words, of course. Just take a look at the latest quarterly update to the OED, which has very few buzzworthy words (except, um, "buzzworthy"). Inter alia, the update includes valuable revisions and expansions of the entries for "linguistic" and "linguistics" (including phrases like "linguistic imperialism" and "linguistic profiling").

    GN:For the first point, of course I don’t mean to suggest that the failure to update couple has anything to do with spending too much time tracking Twitter. But it’s independently irresponsible to retain that definition long after you became aware of its deficiencies, alphabet be damned. For the second point, I completely agree. In the piece I noted that the vast majority of new words in almost all dictionaries are sturdy additions to the lg. Taking my cue from the OED lists, I cited cloud computing, systemic risk, and baseball's walk-off and could have picked hundreds more without getting into technical terminology. But in that case why in the world would you pack the list of new words you announce with so many ephemeral and trifling items, all the more when they’re totally unrepresentative of the larger set? A few, for publicity purposes, sure–that’s what MW and AHD do (Collins errs on the ODO side, I think). But to make these the great majority of a list of 50-odd words… you run the risk, to take a phrase of Matthew Arnold’s, of damaging your credit with serious people. O tempora, O Murray!

  9. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Jonathan Mayhew and Dan: I think the point is that the dictionary definition refers to 'an insinuation or allegation', while the current use relates rather to a word. If I just shout a racially offensive term at you I have not made any insinuation or allegation, but in modern usage I have still used a slur.

    GN: That's absolutely right. The relevant senses of slur in the ODO and other Oxford dictionaries (but not the OED) are defined as follows.

    Verb 3chiefly US make damaging or insulting insinuations or allegations about:try and slur the integrity of the police to secure an acquittal



    Noun 1an insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation:the comments were a slur on staff at the hospital



    Now the noun sense 1 is clearly just a nominalization that denotes the propositional content of the speech act described by the verb sense 3. If I say, e.g., “The staff are all dishonest,” I have slurred the staff, and the allegation that they’re dishonest is the slur I have made (though when you describe an allegation as a slur you generally imply that it’s unjustified). But this is not the sense of the noun (say slur2) in the sentences “She was fired for using a racial slur beginning with N” or “Somebody had spray-painted vile slurs on the wall of the dorm.” In the first place, a slur2 is a word or expression, not an insinuation or allegation. If someone says, “Who’s that fag you were talking to?” or “You wop!” he has uttered a slur but not alleged or for that matter, asserted, anything (whereas a slur1 has to express a proposition). Second, it isn’t sufficient to qualifiy as a slur2 that the word insult or offend someone; it has to insult on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sexual preference etc. (in a as-yet-unsubmitted paper I’ve described these traits as “the deep social fatalities that have been historically the focus of discrimination or group antagonisms,” if that helps). To call somebody an asshole or a doofus is to insult him, but those words are not considered slurs, nor for that matter is stinkpotter for a motor-boat enthusiast etc. Third, to apply a slur2 to somebody is not to slur him in sense 3 of the verb. If I speak of “that wop Rossi,” I haven’t slurred Rossi, whatever else I’ve done. For all these reasons, the definitions above aren’t adequate to describe the meaning of slur2.

    Now here’s the odd part. Some versions of the definition above in various Oxford dictionaries contain an additional example “a racial slur” (that’s what it says in my Oxford American). That was there in the ODO earlier today, as well:

    When I look now, though the "racial slur" isn’t there anymore. I was getting conspiratorial about this, but Ben Zimmer wrote to explain that the "racial slur" example is there in the US ODO but not in the UK version, which my browser was defaulting to. Odd, because the phrase is common in British English as well--a search in the Guardian turns up 400 hits. It shouldn't be there in either version under this definition, but if it's in one...

  10. Dan Hemmens said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    Just take a look at the latest quarterly update to the OED, which has very few buzzworthy words (except, um, "buzzworthy").

    I'm a little curious to know what new senses were added for the words "army" "bag" and "banana".

  11. Cindy said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

    I had a pixie cut in 1969 when I was 5. How is this new?

  12. AJD said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    For "army" and "bag", the new additions seems to be only compounds (which in the OED are listed under the heading of the first element): "army surplus", "bag lunch", and so on.

    "Banana" has compounds, but also the new senses:

    colloq. (chiefly N. Amer.). Originally: a stage comedian having a specified position within a team or act [as in top banana, second banana]. Later: any person capable of being ranked in order of importance or preference within a group (usually with preceding word denoting the position or ranking).

    and

    N. Amer. (chiefly Canad.) slang (depreciative). A person of Asian birth or descent who subscribes to typically western values and attitudes; an oriental person regarded, esp. by other orientals, as adopting or identifying with white culture.

  13. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

    Oh, so that usage of "banana" is not a slur; it's just "depreciative"?

  14. Steve Treuer said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    "Child's pose (yoga)" doesn't seem likely to disappear by the end of the decade unless yoga disappears also.

  15. Gene Callahan said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

    'gives as the closest sense “an expression or suggestion of disparagement or reproof.” But other dictionaries compiled much later than that also miss the use of the word for an offensive or insulting word referencing someone's race, gender etc. (the sense that figures in “he was fired for using a vile racial slur beginning with n”).'

    I can't understand at all why you think this is being left out. Look at the very sentence you chose: to say this, we modify "slur" with "racial." So it is "disparagement" based on race. Does the dictionary need a separate entry for every particular sort of disparagement? They don't have one for disparagement based on height, or baldness, or bad pronunciation of Shakespearean English either.

    GN:See above in response to Andrew's comment.

  16. Gene Callahan said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

    @Andrew: "an insinuation or allegation"

    Every definition of 'slur' cited also refers to things like remarks.

  17. Bobbie said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    I had friends who had pixie cuts in the the 1950s.

    Cindy said,
    I had a pixie cut in 1969 when I was 5. How is this new?

  18. keri said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

    Pixie cuts aren't new – neither are chandelier earrings. That term has been around for at least a decade, since we were selling them at the mall when I started working there during college, a decade ago. I wasn't familiar with fashion terms before then, so it may be even older.

    Squee, srsly, and grats have also been around for quite some time. Granted, I picked them up around 1998/1999 online in a MOO (text-based RPG with some chatroom aspects, I guess you could call it), and it's more like only recently have they graduated to the wider word. Though 'srsly' didn't have quite the connotation it has now. Back then, it was just a timesaving typing shortcut.

  19. ===Dan said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

    not-same-Andrew and GN: Thanks; that is a difference. It's interesting that OAD's example of "a racial slur" doesn't seem to fit the sense of insinuation or allegation. Also, I'm still curious about whether "idiot" or "asshole" constitutes a slur in the sense you're describing.

    (By the way, Chambers apparently has the sense of "Disparagement" which does seem to cover the n-word and "idiot." ) Cambridge Dictionaries Online has the sense of "insult" and gives the example of an ethnic slur. )

    GN: I hadn't notice the CDE definition. It reads in its entirety:
    words intended to insult someone or injure someone's reputation:
    He apologized for shouting an ethnic slur at a fan.
    This is an attempt to compress two distinct meanings with some disjunctive legerdemain, which manages to miss both of them. A slur in the sense "aspersion" isn't a word but an assertion, and a slur in the sense "epithet" isn't just an insult ('fool' isn't a slur). Unless maybe "words" here is meant to refer at once to an utterance in reference to the second disjunct ("his words injured my reputation") and a collection of lexical items in reference to the first ("He used words that are not allowed on the radio"). File under "frontiers of compositional semantics." They're quite distinct senses, in fact.

  20. Chris Waters said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    "Twerk" could actually become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Most of the publicity about the recent announcement focused on this word, which probably made millions more people aware of it. If the term survives, it may well be in part because of all the hate heaped upon it.

    This is the first time I've ever seen "Internet of things" and "MOOC". Neither of those would have made my short-list. On the other hand, I agree with Keri about "squee" (been popular in fandom for years; TVTropes even has a page) and grats. "Buzzworthy," "derp," "selfie," and "TL;DR" would have also made my list. I don't see those going away any time soon. Especially the first. Which, I guess, just shows how subjective the whole thing can be.

    In any case, I don't really care whether any of them disappear quickly. I read a fair amount of fiction from the 1940s, especially mysteries, and I'm always happy to find that a dictionary can explain some obscure bit of slang from that era. Several decades from now, someone reading stuff from the early twenty-teens is likely to be quite happy that some of these were documented.

  21. Nancy Friedman said,

    September 12, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

    "A/W" for "autumn/winter" has been fashion-industry jargon for at least a couple of decades. Spring/summer is S/S. Neither abbreviation is a flash in the pan.

  22. ShadowFox said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    Add me to support the long-overdue "blondie"–I've also seen it on store shelves in the early 1980s, but it seems to date back at least another decade to the "natural" (read, "hippie") cookbooks (like Tassajara Bread Book) from the 1970s. As I was not in the US in the 1970s, I don't know if they were also sold in stores.

    I've previously commented on the expansive use of "cider" in the 18th century, which makes "pear cider" quite a long way coming… (seconding JW Brewer's post) But the definition given is a bit narrow–what is sold today as pear cider is either a fermented pear juice that is made in the manner of hard cider (i.e., perry) or actual hard cider (made from apples) that has added pear flavor (or is made from both apples and pears).

    Michelada is not particularly recent, although it's US migration is more so (and the important ingredients are lager and Clamato, with lager being important rather than generic "beer" and lime juice really being secondary). Nor is it going anywhere as it has now been commemorated with a chopped trademark–Chelada by AB/InBev.

    I was not around in 1962, but I've known people with "pixie cut" in the 1980s and have heard it mentioned in 1970s movies or TV shows.

    I don't understand what "prep" is doing on that list as it is quite old (150 years in OED?) and does not appear in the blog post.

    Derp is also more than a decade old (or should I say "decades old"?) but has become very popular with political bloggers.

    I would also have identified geek chic, girl crush and guac as being durable. Certainly "guac" is not going anywhere as long as there is unending supply of avocados.

  23. EndlessWaves said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 5:52 am

    I agree about squee. It's been around a while and is far too useful a word to vanish (I certainly use it several times a year).

    Omnishambles may or may not survive, I suspect it'll depend on whether it gets picked up by anything more popular. It's a nice word, but does need a stronger association.

    Hackerspace should survive, unless it gets ousted by fablab or it's users are too busy tinkering to put the effort into changing the public perception of the name if/when it gets fashionable.

    I'm doubtful about space tourism. It may survive to 2020 but it won't last long after that, it'll be replaced by more specific terms.

    I haven't heard of MOOC or LDR, looking them up they appear to be buzzwords (Massively Open Online Course and Long Distance Relationship) highlighting the new way of doing things rather than useful categorisations so I don't think they'll survive.

    While there are some obvious termporary words on that list I think the majority are good candidates for long term use, even if only among minorities (I can see myself using 'grats in 20 years for example to someone else who grew up with it).

  24. /df said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 6:29 am

    "Omnishambles" is regularly used in the London media to describe the most shambolic sort of political scandal or snafu. It'll be current as long as this clip from The Thick of It survives in people's minds and in digital storage.

    As for "dad dancing", it just names a concept that dates back at least to the maturity of the first generation to embrace rock-based pop music, exemplified by the running gag of Hugh Dennis's Dad ("It's got a good beat!") (1991).

  25. /df said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 6:32 am

    Please let the links that were eliminated from the above post appear below (grrr) …

    The Thick of It:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1rRszEYKdM

    Dad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRwie4W-wkM

  26. chris y said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    "MOOC" is probably here to stay, at least east of the pond, because it's entered the vocabulary of the politicians and civil servants, which is notoriously sticky. Also, people are investing real money in the damn things, so even if they're a historic failure, the word will probably hang around on the edge of people's consciousness for a generation or so, like Betamax for bureaucrats.

    What everybody says about Pixie Cuts. Didn't the term originate with Audrey Hepburn?

  27. Ginger Yellow said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 10:02 am

    . Unless perhaps there's such a massive revival of the beverage's popularity that "perry" comes back into common use.

    Perry's in pretty common use in my circles, and I'm not even a member of Camra. Pretty much every pub in the UK has at least Bulmers/Magners pear cider in their fridge and you see Koppaberg pear cider adverts everywhere these days.

  28. BZ said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    It's perhaps unsurprising that I don't know most of these words (they're supposed to be new), but of the few I do recognize, many are surely purely compositional. What's special about space tourism or pear cider?

  29. Cameron said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    I agree that omnishambles, pixie cut, blondie (light colored brownie), and fauxhawk have been around for decades, and are pretty well established.

    I think "selfie" is going to stick around.

    I also prefer the portmanteau form "chandelearring" over the two-word variant they cite. I think I might have coined that myself, but I'm sure I can't be the only person who did, it's a pretty obvious one . . .

  30. Daniel Barkalow said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    I think "mint jelly" is a lexeme in a way that "raspberry jelly" or "strawberry jelly" isn't. "Pear cider" might have moved recently from being like "strawberry jelly" to being like "mint jelly", possibly on the basis that speakers who would use "cider" to refer to unfiltered, unfermented apple juice wouldn't use "pear cider" to refer to unfiltered, unfermented pear juice.

  31. Jen said,

    September 13, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    I agree with the above commenter that the term chandelier earrings isn't new– as google ngrams shows, it isn't remotely new, going back to 1940 and peaking around 1990. the term has been about 1/30 as popular as hoop earrings in its lifetime, to give you a sense of reference. i'm surprised it hasn't been in the dictionary previously. (same with pixie cuts! looks like more lexicographers interested in fashion are needed.)

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=%28chandelier+earrings%2Bchandelier+earring%29*30%2Choop+earrings%2Bhoop+earring&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

  32. Jon said,

    September 14, 2013 @ 12:10 am

    In the UK at least, cider and perry have become much more common and heavily promoted over the last decade or so. The big beer brands have introduced ciders under their beer names.
    I read a quote about a year ago from one perry supplier "We started calling it pear cider because no-one knew what perry was". Perry used to be rare, apart from Babycham, sold in tiny bottles as a woman's dainty drink, and advertised as 'the genuine champagne perry' until EU rules stopped them. A few months ago I saw 'pear cider' on the supermarket shelves. And a few weeks ago I saw perry (or pear cider, I can't remember what they called it) on tap in a pub, something I have never seen before.

  33. Xmun said,

    September 14, 2013 @ 1:25 am

    I haven't got a hamster!

  34. Ray Dillinger said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 10:17 am

    Bitcoin is a type of money issued by nerds and hackers instead of governments. It is to the Internet what Gold Reserve Notes were to the printing press. It's based on a cryptographic protocol that secures holdings and transfers and ensures that no more than 21 million units of it can ever exist so there's no possibility of long-term inflation or political interference with the money supply. It can be easily transferred anywhere in the world via Internet or face to face between smartphones.

    It came into existence as a sort of imaginary nerd money on a par with world of warcraft gold in late 2009, but since then has become serious business; Bitcoins are now trading against dollars at $120 to $140 each. Bitcoin provides a very easy method of receiving and processing online payments much more cheaply than processing credit cards, and is starting to gain acceptance in some major markets. The SEC in America and equivalents in several other governments have recently started regulating it as a form of money.

    Bitcoin has provided an alternative for Argentinians whose money is subject to awful mismanagement and occasionally inflates out of existence, for Cypriots whose government recently just plain took all money over a certain balance which was kept in banks, and for Italians and Greeks whose current dealings in Euros are depressed, subject to international monetary controls, and excessively taxed. They have also enabled Filipinos and others to send remittances home to their families without paying excessive fees for wire transfers and currency conversions, and provided a medium of exchange in several marketplaces where small businessmen like fishermen etc would otherwise have to trade in many different national currencies and don't want the hassle of exchanging and keeping track of how much is in which form.

    Unfortunately they've also provided a standard for doing drug deals, money laundering, and buying arms and explosives on "underground" Internet marketplaces such as Silk Road, which is widely considered to be "Ebay for maniacs" or "Amazon for terrorists" or "the most brazen illicit drug marketplace in the world" depending on which congressman you mention it to.

    It has already spawned dozens of imitators, and the word "bitcoin" is becoming synonymous with the protocol used to secure it (known among cryptographers as "Nakamoto's Byzantine Agreement Protocol") and the specific currency named Bitcoin is a particular application of that protocol.

    So, yes, it's a topic of conversation in current events, and likely to be part of the language for a long time.

  35. Rubrick said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    I agree with everything Geoff said, and only wish to add that I hope "outlive your hamster" catches on as an idiom.

  36. Svafa said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    I'm surprised to see several on this list simply because they've been in use for over a decade and I'd expect they were already included. As others have pointed out, squee, grats, srsly, and tl;dr have been around for some time. Grats and srsly, especially, having been used for at least two decades, though I will admit srsly's current connotations only came into being around the turn of the millennium though. I doubt any of those four will drop out of use in the next few decades though. I'm more on the fence over derp.

  37. p123 said,

    March 19, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

    Not sure where to put my comment on the Language Log site – am new to it – but I suppose here is as good a place as any. I wonder if "lol" was considered by the ODO as a new word. I have read twice recently on message boards the use of "lol" (< LOL, laugh out loud) as a verb, as in "That joke made me made me lol so much" or "I lolled at what he said". Now I don't know whether this really is new or I've just not come across it before, but if it is new, I can see it catching on.

  38. p123 said,

    March 19, 2014 @ 6:23 pm

    Further to what Ray Dillinger has written above on bitcoin, it should be pointed out that bitcoin is a highly volatile currency – in that bitcoin value can fluctuate enormously over a given period – and can be quite dangerous to invest in or even hold onto for long for that reason. However, for immediate transactions it is probably safe enough, although there have been horror stories recently of massive and very swift drops in value overnight.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment