It’s akin to the earth shifting beneath my feet, this constant change in the English language. It’s as though I built my editorial house on sand.
Of course language evolves. It has to in order to accommodate new discoveries, new technology, new ideas. I understand that. But when perfectly good words and meanings are corrupted because people are too lazy or too illiterate to honor the standards, the pillars, the foundations, it annoys me. More than it should. Yes, dammit, things should be done the way I was taught in school … some … 60 … years … ago …
Okay, so times change. I need to accept that. I need to go with the flow, face the brave new world with a smile, go along to get along …
Balderdash. I shall do it properly. If a LOL or a ROFL slips into my writing, well, hey, I’m hip. I’m cool. I’m with it. But don’t expect to hear “el oh el” or especially “oh em gee” in my speech. It makes absolutely no sense to pronounce the letters of the initialism OMG when “Oh my god” is also three syllables.
The Oxford Dictionaries prompted my outburst with yesterday’s announcement of the new words they’ve just added, with the excuse that, hey, somebody might need to look these up:
On the one hand, I don’t think slang deserves to be legitimized in a proper dictionary; we’ve got the Urban Dictionary for that. On the other hand, there may be some value in listing a word for history’s sake, in case someday some historian wants to know what on earth today’s young people meant when they said “hench.”
I’ll admit some of these words have slipped into my vocabulary without my giving them a second thought. Why, just the other day I used doncha in a post, but I was fully aware it was slang; I was trying to lighten the mood. It’s obviously a contraction of don’t you. Why list it in a dictionary? Of course, I asked the same question back when ain’t was added to all the dictionaries. Heresy!
Granted, new technology requires new words to describe it, so I’m fine with e-cig and vape. I don’t like how slangy they sound, but I’m not likely to bother saying or writing “inhaling vapor from an electronic cigarette.”
For the record, and I’ve said it before, cray and cray cray as slangy, popular forms of crazy drive me absolutely cray cray. (Is cray cray one word or two? Dictionary, please … )
Not included in the article about the Oxford Dictionary, but stuck far, far down in my craw since I read about it last week (old news, but new to me) is knowing that several dictionaries have added “figuratively” as an acceptable definition of the all-too-commonly misused literally. So many people have misused literally for so long that the grammarians of the world have given up, given in, and acknowledged the misusage as acceptable. My old English teachers are rolling in their graves.