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Jun 10 2009 - 04:53pm
Web 2.0 the millionth word?
An article in Reuters discusses how Web 2.0 may be the millionth word added to the English dictionary. The article notes how some linguists think this is nonsense and nothing but a marketing ploy. The article indicates that the editors of the Global Language Monitor look at the frequency of words used on the web, and when the word use reaches a certain threshold, GLM declares it a new word. Other new words to the Enlglish dictionary declared by GLM are Jai Ho and slumdog, popularized by the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

What is interesting about this is not including popular phrases or slang as actual words of the English language. For example, bootylicious (definition below) has been declared a new word by Oxford English Dictionary:

bootylicious, a. slang (orig. U.S.). 1. Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare. 1992 ‘SNOOP DOGGY DOGG' Fuck Wit Dre Day (song) in ‘Dr. Dre' Chronic (album), Them rhymes you were kickin were quite bootylicious. 1996 ‘So when you see Dre, a DJ on the Mic' in alt.rap (Usenet Newsgroup) 26 Nov., He's great on ‘100 Miles', but his rhymes are quite bootylicious on ‘Efil4zaggin'. 2. Esp. of a woman, often with reference to the buttocks: sexually attractive, sexy; shapely. 1994 Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune (Nexis) 17 Jan. 1A, Winning the prize for originality: ‘flippen flappin', an expression of anger; ‘booty-licious', as good-looking; [etc.]. 1999 Slate Mag. (Nexis) 25 Jan., I still think she's bootknockingly bootylicious. 2001 R. FUSARI et al. (title of song) in ‘Destiny's Child' Survivor (album), Bootylicious. 2001 Sunday Herald (Glasgow) 20 Dec. (Mag.) 29 (caption) It's Hogmanay, time to party and look bootylicious for the Bells. 2003 Elle Jan. 76/2 Sasha's plan was to add muscle mass to butt and hips make me more ‘bootylicious'.. while simultaneously whittling away my waist.
Rather, what is interesting is that the use of new terms rise and fall so quickly, they can declared part of the English language (or declared obsolete) before institutions like the Oxford English Dictionary can declare them as such. It does have a funny irony: Web 2.0 (representing a participatory turn in how people use media) as a movement and as word act to unseat (or at least annoy) established institutions. I wonder if OED will one day go the way of Encyclopedia Britannica?

Posted in: TechnologyFYI|By: Anthony Cocciolo|4137 Reads