Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let's get linguistically snobbish!

Above: Ox4rd's wrd/yr. 2k15.
After more than fourteen hundred years this hodgepodge of French, German and Latin that we speak is now officially dead. The language of William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Maya Angelou was officially bludgeoned to death yesterday when the publishers of the Oxford English dictionary, one of the foremost authorities on what is and is not a real word, announced this year's Word of the Year, and it's a goddamned emoji. Yes, one of those stupid smiley face things people use when they can't be bothered to text actual language.

Look, I realize that the language is constantly evolving and that one of the strengths of English is that it can easily incorporate new words and shades of meaning and that's awesome. It's a linguistic Voltron, and that's one of its strengths.

1. A giant robot knight comprised of five smaller robots who are also lions.
2. A combination of (usually disparate or separate) objects, ideas or people 
that, in unison, become greater than the sum of their parts.
Pictured: what brunch tasted like.
But English's flexibility can also be a source of consternation for people who cringe at every made up word or expanded meaning. Sometimes they...ok we, are even offenders ourselves. Take awesome, that word I just carelessly threw out there, it used to mean 'capable of inspiring awe or fear,' but is now used to mean 'hey, that's neat.' It's incorrect, I know, but I use it anyway while at the same time calling out someone who describes that brunch they just enjoyed as epic, like they just ate Beowulf or something.

"The line must be drawn here!"
-Jean-Luc Picard, possibly 
taking about something else
I suppose this makes me a hypocrite and am comfortable with that. I pick and choose when and where I think the line is between creative usage and linguistic butchery. Guesstimate? Ginormous? Bullshit. Sciencetician? Redstate Shitmerchant? Totally fine. The point is there's a lot of personal choice in English, and while I might not like how you keep using literally when everyone knows it doesn't mean what you think it means, I will fight to the death for your right to say it (figuratively).

That said, shouldn't the word of the year, like the official, recognized best word of 2015 be, I don't know, a fucking word?
Seriously, there's like hundreds of thousands, possibly a million words
in the English language. Pick one. Any one. As long as it's a sound or
series of sounds which, when spoken, carry a meaning, we'll be good.


  1. You know, if you're going to get snobbish about language, you should probably get snobbish about punctuation too -- i.e., use two dashes (surrounded by spaces) when you're breaking off or going into an aside...

    (Hey, look! Parentheses (nested, even!), an em-dash, and an ellipsis, ALL IN THE SAME COMMENT! (capital phrases cost extra and are not incloh, dammit...))

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