I’ve been trying to ignore all the nonsense of people being outraged about some of the latest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary, but between seeing that it has reached the point that newspapers are running newsbriefs about it and reading this wrongheaded column on the Washington Post’s website, I couldn’t stay silent.
Haven’t heard about the issue? The OED announced its latest revisions this week, and it included the acronyms OMG (netspeak for Oh My God), and LOL (laughing out loud), and FYI (which isn’t even netspeak), as well as two other web-driven words: dot bomb, and ego-surfing.
This has resulted in all sorts of ZOMG THE OED IS TRYING TOO HARD TO BE “COOL” AND “HIP” AND …
Well, and this, from the aforementioned Post column:
- “It’s like a grandmother who insists on using slang, but worse. It’s like a grandmother wearing glittery makeup and jeggings. It’s like Yoda trying to sext you. It’s like your great-uncle Pete going to see “Never Say Never 3D,” twice. If the OED weren’t a dictionary, I would be worried that it was a pedophile, given that it spends all its time hanging around people hundreds of years younger trying to seem cool.”
The writer goes on to say the OED ” is supposed to have dignity. It is supposed to enshrine the words that actually mean things. Just because people are using these words doesn’t mean that they deserve to be in the dictionary.”
Actually, that’s exactly what it means. Sorry. Dictionaries describe the language as it is being used. And language evolves, all the time. OMG and LOL do “actually mean things,” because if they didn’t no one could use them because no one would understand them.
A dictionary is just a reference book, not the Code of Hammurabi. (Even the OED.) A word’s inclusion or exclusion from the dictionary doesn’t make it “real” or not. It’s just there so people can look words up and learn their meaning. What’s wrong with that?
Seriously, what’s wrong with providing useful information to people? If you don’t like these words, just don’t use them.