FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Ella Sharpe would have preferred that omphaloskepsis, meaning to gaze at one’s navel,re-entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2009 rather than a swag of new tech words such as unfriend, sexting and intexticated.
Topping the list of new words that made it into the dictionary in 2009 is unfriend, the act of scratching a contact from facebook.
Ms Sharpe, a salesassistant at Lismore’s Book Warehouse who is a self-proclaimed stickler for grammar, said most of the new words used by her peers degraded English rather than enhanced it.
“Sure, it’s the evolution of language, but it’s the evolution of a dimmer people,” bemoaned Miss Sharpe.
Other words propelled into the dictionary by mobile-phone toting teens include sexting, the act of sending sexually explicit text and pictures via a mobile phone; and intexticated, which means to be distracted while texting on a mobile while driving.
In 2009, social networking also spawned the word Tweetup, meaning social gatherings arranged via messages posted on Twitter.
Hashtag is a hash-sign added to a word that enables Twitter uses to search for tweets – twitter postings – forsimilarly tagged words.
The global economic crisis also added to our 2009 lexicon the term Zombie Bank, a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but is propped up by government. Also on the list is funemployed, meaning to take advantage of newly-unemployed status to have fun.
Staycation, or frugally choosing to stay at home during holidays, also made the cut.
Credit crunch topped the Oxford English Dictionary list in 2008 and has since crept into everyday language.
Miss Sharpe said the best place for many of the new words was in a slang dictionary.
“In a few decades we won’t be able to understand Shakespeare. Technology is changing our language so fast,” she said.
The Lismore teen blamed the de-evolution of language squarely on mobile phone texting, which often truncates or misspells words.
“People my age are writing essays like they text. I’ve been warned against it,” she said.
Workmate and avid reader Beth Hobbs, who has a BA honours degree in English, said it was a shame language was breaking down so much.
“But it is evolution. It reflects changing times,” she said.
“I suspect many of the words included this year won’t last. They are transient words, part of a trend.”