Monday, September 19, 2011

Watching Our Language. . . .

The Philadelphia Inquirer's John Timpane recently wrote a piece on the words we use and don't use anymore. Timpane's report on Merriam-Webster's changing lexicon offers a great reflection of just how much our world and culture is actually morphing from one thing into another. Our words do reflect who we are, where we've come from, and where we're going. Believe it or not, the folks at the dictionary publisher surf pop culture to see what words are new, what words need to be dropped, and what words are on-deck. It's all quite telling.

Some of this year's changes are especially interesting to me as I continue work on our new CPYU Digital Kids Initiative. New words include tweet, robocall, social media, crowdsourcing, and m-commerce. . . a term used to describe transactions one makes on their mobile device. While new technologies are in, old technologies are out. . . making some of us feel really old. A couple of omissions include record changer and microreader. Yep, the old record player and library microfiche machines are now housed in the Smithsonian! An on-deck word that should have been included this time around is sexting.

The changing nature of relationships in today's world haven't been overlooked either. New words include bromance, cougar, helicopter parent, and boomerang child.

The rate of cultural change is snowballing. And just when you think you're catching up you discover that you might be using all the wrong word that aren't even words anymore, and not using all the words you should be using. . . which only gives your kids more reason to see you as hopelessly outdated and out-of-touch.

Oh well. So now we go to bed each every night wondering what tomorrow will bring. . . what words will be in and what words will be out. At least Merriam-Webster has included a new word that reflects developments that are helping more and more older folks sleep - continuous positive airway pressure. Are you clueless on that one? Well. . . go ahead and look it up!

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