FROM THE ARCHIVE: Word up: dictionary update brings modern English to book

12 Dec

Written for BizGene.com in August 2011.

The Queen’s English has always been an evolving language, but the steady, sensible changes us Brits have enjoyed forcing on foreigners over the years has changed dramatically and with ever increasing speed since the proliferation of ‘quality’ American TV first hit us back in the 90s and the internet became the sprawling virtual Tower of Babel that it is today.

Naturally then, the crusty old word-keepers at the Concise Oxford English Dictionary have had to keep up, identifying the new utterances that need to go into the Big Book of Words and ousting the tired old letter-alignments that nobody not in possession of a special Police Box or Delorean need to ever use again.

So, with the latest update complete, what new words do you need to add to your business lexicon in order to keep up with contemporary jargon, and which can you erase from your speech centre for all time? Here’s our pick of the winners and losers…

5 fresh in

cyberbullying: n. the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

Bullying is never acceptable, even cyberbullying, but given that the popular use of the term has helped it muscle its way into the dictionary suggests that a lot of people are either bemoaning it or bragging about it…

woot: exclam. informal (especially in electronic communication) used to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph.

Is this one of your favourites? Then woot until you’re sick in celebration, it’s now an official real word!

sexting: n. informal the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone.

Probably not too much of a surprise given the borderline endorsement the practice has been given from the likes of Ashley Cole, Tiger Woods, Vernon Kay, and that tubby chap who used to be on The One Show.

retweet: v. (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user). n. a reposted or forwarded message on Twitter.

It’s important to recycle, even when it’s somebody else’s opinions, ideas, idiotic statements. Perhaps the council will eventually provide special bags and fortnightly collections.

follower: n. someone who is tracking a particular person, group, or organisation on a social networking site.

Yes, we thought it already was a word too (often linked to ‘wacko cult’), but it seems the term needed redefining for the 21st century, and here it is. Possibly still linked to ‘wacko cult’.

Five fresh out

charabanc: n. a large vehicle carrying many passengers, typically used as public transport or for sightseeing.

That’s a bus isn’t it? Or a train perhaps? Either way it’s you’ll no longer be heading to meetings on one… having paid over the odds for a ticket… and still not getting a seat.

Aerodrome: n. a landing area for private craft, usually smaller than an airport.

Sign of the times – recession comes in, the private jets and helicopters go out. Seems a bit quick to ditch the word completely though. Perhaps they know something we don’t. In any event, those foreign business trips will be ‘frill’ free from now on.

drysalter: n. dealer in specific chemical products such as dyes, gums, dried, tinned, salted foods and edible oils.

They do say that in harsh economic climes it’s the old fashioned trades that thrive. They are wrong.

wittol: n. a man who tolerates his wife’s infidelity.

Quite right, these are zero-tolerance times. Incidentally, if you’re infuriated by the loss of what for you is an oft-used term, you may consider seeking marital guidance; or spending less time in the office reading stuff like this.

alienism: n. the study and treatment of mental illness.

Probably just dropped in order to reduce the number of words the Daily Mail can plonk after ‘illegal’ in order to publish yet another rant about anyone deemed to be increasing crime/inciting unrest/driving down house prices/taking our jobs/causing water shortage etc.

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