Digital Slang Officially Enters the Language

Every word in the English language – and every other language, for that matter – was invented at some point by someone who spoke it.  Often when we move to correct someone, or educate our children, or win a bet, we check to see if a particular word being used is in the dictionary and, if so, how the dictionary defines it.  What we rarely stop to consider is that every single word existed prior to its appearance in a dictionary, and the same can be said of many of the idiomatic phrases we still use today:  “dead as a doornail,” “breaking the ice,” “lily-livered,” and “foregone conclusion” (among a great many others) were all invented by the same person:  William Shakespeare.

We mention all this as foundation for why we’re not all that upset that the language is now officially accommodating what most of us refer to as “internet slang.”  Terms like “twerking,” “srsly,” and “buzzworthy,” among others, have all been included in the Oxford Online Dictionary (or ODO, not to be confused with the OED, or Oxford English Dictionary, the ODO’s stuffy older sibling).  Of course, it will probably take some time before MS Word stops underlining all these words in red, but one thing we did notice from the list is that many of the new terms predictably derive from the omnipresence of smartphones and the mobile apps they contain.  Here are a few:

  • FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” which is probably what drives us to check our phones every six minutes.
  • Phablet, which earned its name by having a screen too big for a phone, and too small for a tablet
  • The term “emoji,” which means “emoticon,” might very well end up replacing “emoticon,” since it’s so much more fun to say.
  • “Derp” is repeated to stand in for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, which is basically what you get if you’re masochistic enough to read YouTube comments.
  • And, of course, “selfie,” or those photos people take of themselves with their phones.  Oddly, “duck face” did not make the ODO’s cut this year.

It’s a brave new world, and if you’re of a certain age, it’s probably safer embracing it rather than objecting to it.  By the way, “brave new world?”  Also coined by Shakespeare.o its appearance in a dictionary, and the same can be said of many of the idiomatic phrases we still use today:  “dead as a doornail,” “breaking the ice,” “lily-livered,” and “foregone conclusion” (among a great many others) were all invented by the same person:  William Shakespeare.

We mention all this as foundation for why we’re not all that upset that the language is now officially accommodating what most of us refer to as “internet slang.”  Terms like “twerking,” “srsly,” and “buzzworthy,” among others, have all been included in the Oxford Online Dictionary (or ODO, not to be confused with the OED, or Oxford English Dictionary, the ODO’s stuffy older sibling).  Of course, it will probably take some time before MS Word stops underlining all these words in red, but one thing we did notice from the list is that many of the new terms predictably derive from the omnipresence of smartphones and the mobile apps they contain.  Here are a few:

  • FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” which is probably what drives us to check our phones every six minutes.
  • Phablet, which earned its name by having a screen too big for a phone, and too small for a tablet
  • The term “emoji,” which means “emoticon,” might very well end up replacing “emoticon,” since it’s so much more fun to say.
  • “Derp” is repeated to stand in for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, which is basically what you get if you’re masochistic enough to read YouTube comments.
  • And, of course, “selfie,” or those photos people take of themselves with their phones.  Oddly, “duck face” did not make the ODO’s cut this year.

It’s a brave new world, and if you’re of a certain age, it’s probably safer embracing it rather than objecting to it.  By the way, “brave new world?”  Also coined by Shakespeare.

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Mark M. Stetler is CEO of AppMuse and its related businesses: iPhoneAppQuotes.com, iPadApplicationQuotes.com, AndroidAppDevelopmentQuotes.com, and BlackberryAppDevelopmentQuotes.com. AppMuse is the Internet's leading provider of free app development quotes from experienced, pre-screened app developers for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry smart phones.

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