- By Amadeus Smith
- Mar 28 2011
- Volume/Issue: 2/29
OMG, LOL make the dictionary. Really?
OMG! Language is becoming a joke.
Last week, it was reported that the Oxford English Dictionary now includes text lingo, such as OMG and LOL.
“Heart” also made the cut. But heart is already a word, right? Well, heart is no longer just an organ that pumps blood. Now, the word also means “to love.” I heart New York would be an example.
This isn’t the first time words like these have made a dictionary; often it is after the term has become part of pop culture. There is, of course, Homer Simpson’s d’oh, which Merriam-Webster defines as a word used to express sudden recognition of a foolish blunder or an ironic turn of events. The people at Oxford University Press have also put bootylicious, a word made popular by Destiny’s Child, and Rachael Ray’s abbreviation for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in their word reference books.
The English language is always changing and growing. One use of a dictionary is to chronicle that change and growth.
However, by including words in a dictionary, we automatically validate those words as well. Herein lies the problem.
Abbreviations such as LOL are products of laziness, used to decrease the time it takes to text message someone. Practical? Sure.
But giving these abbreviations and other slang words an official place in the English lexicon is dangerous. After all, these “words” weren’t developed with any regard to the rules of language.
In 2010, The Nielsen Company, a group that does consumer analysis, reported that U.S. teens send an average of 3,339 texts per month.
Bottom line: this is how kids are talking. It has become so natural that text language is making its way into essays at the high school level.
In an article published in early March, the Washington-based newspaper The Columbian reported that text talk is showing up in high school essays and reports. From my own experience, I know that it’s happening here in Canton as well.
For now, at least, the problem is not that kids don’t know correct grammar and spelling. However, if this keeps up, if we continue to validate these types of words, a lack of understanding of grammar and spelling, or even illiteracy, could very well become a big problem.
The problem currently is that, because of the frequency of their use of text language, many teens seem to instinctively use that language outside of texting and chatting on the Internet.
And why not? It’s easy, quick, and accepted in nearly every environment in their lives– all but the professional environment.
That’s why acknowledging these types of “words” as words could be problematic. The words are already globally recognized by media outlets and are part of everyday language.
But what happens when a kid is trying to get into college or trying to get a job and under the interests and hobbies section on an application he writes:
OMG idk, i luv 2 b w/ my friends cuz they make me LOL & go 2 the movies cuz its fun<3
Or under the special skills section he writes:
U r gonna want me to wrk here cuz im gr8 w/ ppl
Simple: he won’t get into the school; he won’t get the job.
We do need to chronicle the progression (if you could even call it that at this point) of the English language. But we need to separate recognition of words being part of everyday speech and words that should be included in a documentation of proper English. Perhaps we should publish two separate books based on these guidelines.