ICYMI, OED updated

ICYMI, OED updated

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A forthcoming update to the Oxford English Dictionary includes several acronyms drawn from the internet. In a bow to the rising power of social media, FWIW (“for what it’s worth”) and ICYMI (“in case you missed it”) have found their place in the canon, along with localisms like “budgie smugglers” (Australia, 1990s) and “bovver” (UK, 1980s). The shift in media from print to electronic platforms is acknowledged by the inclusion of “listicle”, that dreadful little dingus dreamed up by internet desk hands to make the news look snappier on a smartphone screen.

Almost every year, terms from the internet trickle into the OED, and every year, it causes the public to go “OMG”. But the dictionary must be internet-aware if it is to remain current. ICYMI, despite its stodgy image, the OED itself is online. Its most reliable versions are digital subscriptions.

There is public excitement every time the OED admits new words because they will never fall off, ever. The dictionary is the historical repository of English, and retains terms from the contemporary “LOL” and “IMHO” to “byrthynsac” (amniotic sac) and “arquebus” (a muzzle-loader), which were already archaic when the first edition rolled off the Clarendon Press in 1888. The retention policy often shows that words which we regard as edgily contemporary have been around for much longer than we imagine. “Unfriend” predates Facebook by eight centuries and was originally a noun. “Text” as a verb dates from the 16th century and originally meant writing in capital letters, which would spark off a flame war if it occurred in a contemporary text message. And LOL dates back to 1960, when it signified a stock character of English culture — the little old lady. The OED soaks it all up and holds it forever. Its stomach for words passeth human understanding.


A forthcoming update to the Oxford English Dictionary includes several acronyms drawn from the internet. In a bow to the rising power of social media, FWIW (“for what it’s worth”) and ICYMI (“in case you missed it”) have found their place in the canon, along with localisms like “budgie smugglers” (Australia, 1990s) and “bovver” (UK, 1980s). The shift in media from print to electronic platforms is acknowledged by the inclusion of “listicle”, that dreadful little dingus dreamed up by internet desk hands to make the news look snappier on a smartphone screen. Almost every year, terms from the internet trickle into the OED, and every year, it causes the public to go “OMG”. But the dictionary must be internet-aware if it is to remain current. ICYMI, despite its stodgy image, the OED itself is online. Its most reliable versions are digital subscriptions. There is public excitement every time the OED admits new words because they will never fall off, ever. The dictionary is the historical repository of English, and retains terms from the contemporary “LOL” and “IMHO” to “byrthynsac” (amniotic sac) and “arquebus” (a muzzle-loader), which were already archaic when the first edition rolled off the Clarendon Press in 1888. The retention policy often shows that words which we regard as edgily contemporary have been around for much longer than we imagine. “Unfriend” predates Facebook by eight centuries and was originally a noun. “Text” as a verb dates from the 16th century and originally meant writing in capital letters, which would spark off a flame war if it occurred in a contemporary text message. And LOL dates back to 1960, when it signified a stock character of English culture — the little old lady. The OED soaks it all up and holds it forever. Its stomach for words passeth human understanding. …..
More at : ICYMI, OED updated
Source: Indian Express – Editorials

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