For a few years now, teachers and English purists have bemoaned the slow, painful death of language. It was bad enough, when they had only rock music and television to fight. Now, they face an even greater nemesis: Smartphones. In fact, a recent article, a professor tells The Telegraph that Twitter is causing students’ writing skills to “go down the plug hole.”
Many a high school teacher can point to at least a handful of instances where LOL or j/k or OMG have popped up in student essays.
And, to further prove that there is — in fact — a dark, nefarious force infiltrating our minds and our vocabulary, enemies of “text talk” point to the Oxford Dictionaries Online’s (not the OED) newest selection of words which include enemies of eloquent language like: twerk, selfie and badassery or condensed forms of words and phrases like srsly and FOMO.
To the doomsayers I say, calm down. Remember that the ODO is not the same as the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford’s online reference is more adaptable, a little faster and a little looser with the words that they include. After all, their mandate is to focus on current English and modern meanings. And, I’d add that many of the new words are necessary to address new and growing technology.
Are the words silly? Yes. Have they infiltrated teens’ lexicon? Certainly. But, is this new? Have teenagers suddenly discovered slang or colloquial speech? The answer is certainly not. One need not think too far back to find, now obscure, words that we may be embarrassed to have uttered. Remember cowabanga? Or tubular? Or psych?
Yes, journalists and “totally bogus” grownups hated those words too. Hashtags, text messages and social media are here now. Soon enough, they too will be old news.
So academics take heart. Language is dynamic. It is alive and changing, evolving, adapting. Most of these new “words,” if we must call them that, will soon fade into obscurity.