Culture evolves whether technologically or linguistically. And so the new words in the dictionaries just keep on multiplying like the number of inventions and discoveries. However, 1,700 new words added by Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary include internet slang like WTF, Clickbait, Photobomb and more.
The number of words and phrases in circulation keep adding up over time and soon enough there is what can only be called a linguistic explosion in the same manner as the catchword “population explosion”. Like the universe is expanding, language too clearly has no limits. Languages live and languages die.
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The index of a language of course is a dictionary. And the English Language, which is the lingua franca of the postmodern world of today, has borrowed words from every nook and cranny of the globe. Some of the new words that have been added recently have to do with the new phenomena faced by society, according to a blog by Merriam-Webster. These include all sorts of changes in the economic base and the cultural superstructure of the concerned populace.
Take the word “mouse potato”. It came into being with the dawn of the computer age. Like that concomitant of high civilization “couch potato” which means a person who sits on his butt all day and does nothing except watch TV, “mouse potato” means anyone spending all his time surfing the Internet. Some other novel words that have made it into the present-day lexicon are: colossal squid, net neutrality, click fraud, emoji, meme, eggcorn, neurofeedback and Lambrusco.
Colossal squid is a giant squid that exists in the seas. It is a rare find and has fascinated scientists. Net neutrality refers to the idealistic principle that online users take all info as reliable and of value regardless of the actual source of its origin. A rather shady concept, that one! Click fraud is an economically sadistic act where you keep clicking the cursor on the advertiser’s site so as to make him pay more dollars or cents.
As for an emoji, it is a cartoon symbol or iconic logo that is cute and funny and expresses the current emotions of the computer user. Emojis are often used in chat rooms as attach-on elements. Meme is a word that is a spin-off of gene. Taken from mimesis, it implies the passing of characteristics from one person to another in a milieu.
Coming to eggcorns, they are a mispronunciation of acorn. In other words, it is a sort of malapropism of sorts where an incorrect word takes the place of a correct one. Neurofeedback is the psychological feedback of info in order to change consciousness. This is normally accomplished via an EEG. Finally, Lambrusco is a sugary red wine from a particular area of Italy.
The words could continue to multiply endlessly like rabbits but there comes a time when things get too verbose. That is when language needs a thorough clean-up in order to make way for new languages and new modes of artistic expression. Ours may be that time when a return to experience is the greatest need. At least it is a better choice than getting caught up in the prisonhouse of language.
SOME OF THE 1,700 NEW WORDS ADDED TO MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S UNABRIDGED ONLINE DICTIONARY
WTF (abbreviation): what the f—, used especially to express or describe outraged surprise, recklessness, confusion or bemusement.
Photobomb (verb or noun): To move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or a prank.
Clickbait (noun): something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.
Emoji (noun): any of various small images, symbols, or icons used in text fields in electronic communication (as in text messages, e-mail and social media) to express the emotional attitude of the writer, convey information succinctly, communicate a message playfully without using words, etc.
Dark money (noun): money contributed to nonprofit organizations (especially those classified as social welfare organizations and business leagues) that is used to fund political campaigns without the disclosure of the donors’ identities.
Jegging (noun): a legging that is designed to resemble a tight-fitting pair of denim jeans and is made of a stretchable fabric — usually plural.
Meme (noun): an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.
Net neutrality (noun): the idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source or destination.
Neurofeedback (noun): the technique of making brain activity perceptible to the sense (as by recording brain waves with an electroencephalograph and presenting them visually or audibly) in order to consciously alter such activity.
NSFW (abbreviation): not safe for work; not suitable for work — used to warn someone that a website, e-mail attachment, etc., is not suitable for viewing at most places of employment.
Slendro (noun): a pentatonic tuning employed for Javanese gamelans that divides the octave into five roughly similar internals.
Vocal fry (noun): a vocal effect produced by very slow vibration of the vocal cords and characterized by a creaking sound and low pitch.
Eggcorn (noun): a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase either on its own or as part of a set expression.
Colossal Squid (noun) : an extremely large squid occurring in deep waters of the Southern Ocean that is the largest known living invertebrate.
Sharing Economy (noun): economic activity that involves individuals buying or selling usually temporary access to goods or services, especially as arranged through an online company or organization.
Vocal Fry (noun): a vocal effect produced by very slow vibration of the vocal cords and characterized by a creaking sound and low pitch.
Palliative care (noun): Medical and related care provided to a patient with a serious, life-threatening, or terminal illness that is not intended to provide curative treatment but rather to manage symptoms, relieve pain and discomfort, improve quality of life, and meet the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient.
Hsaing-waing(noun): A traditional Burmese musical ensemble consisting largely of drums and gongs
Macaron (noun): A light, often brightly colored sandwich cookie consisting of two round disks made from a batter of egg whites, sugar, and almond flour surrounding a sweet filling (as of ganache, buttercream, or jam)
Chilaquiles (noun): A Mexican dish of fried corn tortilla pieces simmered with salsa or mple or typically topped with cheese and other accompaniments (such as sliced onions, shredded chicken, and fried or scrambled eggs)
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Crema (noun): A layer of creamy tan froth that forms on the top of freshly made espresso.