|Fist pump, tweet added to dictionary|
|Written by Alexandra Corradetti, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Wednesday, 31 August 2011 21:13|
The words tweet, fist pump, cougar and bromance are among an array of new words recently added to the Merriam Webster dictionary, according to an article from the Pantagraph.
Peter Sokolowski, editor at large of Merriam-Webster, Inc. is confident in the process of selecting new words to be entered in the dictionary.
“We watch the language as it is used by reading as much as we can, taking a kind of census of the language. When a word is likely to be encountered by many people, when it is used broadly in many publications, it’s time for that word to be in the dictionary,” Sokolowski explained.
Sokolowski believes American society is more commonly seeing slang words today than in the past.
“Slang has always been part of English and indeed all languages. It’s possible that because of a more relaxed prose style in contemporary newspapers [for example], we’re seeing more today, but I’m not sure,” Sokolowski said.
He also feels that the media has influence over what new words are entered.
“Absolutely. Since we practice descriptive lexicography, we observe how the language is actually used and report that usage. So the editor of a major magazine or newspaper actually has much more influence than we do,” Sokolowski said.
Sokolowski thinks that one influence on people’s personal dialects is more prominent than others.
“The most significant linguistic influence on any person is the language of his or her peers – even more than parents. A child raised in Boston of French parents will speak English with a Boston accent, the way his or her school cohort speaks,” Sokolowski explained.
It is also important to know what words like tweet mean, Sokolowski added.
“‘Tweet’ is a word that doesn’t just refer to a new kind of communication, we need to know what it means even if we have no intention of ever using Twitter. Because of the influence of social media in the Arab Spring and the resignation of Congressman [Anthony] Weiner, ‘tweet’ has become part of the story itself, no longer just a manner of transmitting it. Like ‘blog’, it’s a new word for a new manner of communication,” Sokolowski said.
According to Sokolowski, words are removed when an entirely new edition of the Collegiate is made about every 10 years.
“They are words for which we have no evidence of contemporary use and little historic value. So, ‘snollygoster’ and ‘microreader’ have been removed from the collegiate [edition] in recent years, but ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ remain because they are part of literary or biblical language that is still studied and read,” Sokolowski said.
Kristin Dykstra, associate professor of English, said she hears modern lingo pop up in her classes frequently. She believes that these new slang words are a good idea.
“These words appear in contemporary literature and culture, as well as other arenas, so why not allow curious people to find out what they mean,” Dykstra explained.
Dykstra thinks that all language has history.
“It lives and changes. What if we weren’t allowed to refer to ‘e-mail’ and the ‘Internet?’ When I was in high school, we didn’t use or refer to those things at all, but I use these words every day in 2011,” Dykstra said.