Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Expanded Vocabulary

I  learned a lot in 2013. My personal dictionary has expanded yet again. Although I seem to pick up some of the latest language fads on my own, I also like to peruse Aaron Peckham's Urban Dictionary in an attempt to keep up with the newest buzz word, or perhaps I should say sweet or rad word.

There is some language in existence that doesn't become commonly used until there is an event which triggers the need. For example, bailout. Whereas this might have once referred to leaping from an aircraft and hoping that the parachute opens, it has taken on a new meaning in this century.

In 2004, the word of the year was "blog". I didn't participate in this phenomenon until a number of years later. So today's blog is about new words or at least some which have been unfamiliar to me.

I believe that there have always been weird invented words. Dr. Seuss made an extremely good living creating words. Just a few that instantly come to mind are snoods, sneetches and the now all too famous grinch.

It's whether words catch on and become commonly used which determines if they end up in any type of dictionary. Some have fallen by the wayside. After all, who uses sardoodledom or pecksniffian in their everyday speech? Even my spell checker doesn't recognize these and is currently underscoring them with hostile red squiggles. On the same note, I haven't heard a lot of people saying the 2004 word of the year, "w00t". Although I don't participate in a lot of gaming events that would require this word, I have seen it used in written form on Facebook.

With the almost daily advances in technology, we are constantly adding to our vocabulary. Who knew what apps, hashtags and tweets were a few years ago? When I wrote a column using the word "selfie", hubby said, "Change that because nobody knows what you're talking about."

I now gladly rub his nose in the fact that selfie was the word of the year for 2013. Of course, had Miley Cyrus created the now infamous Robin Thicke dance display a little earlier on, twerking might not have been such a distant second choice.

I think that previously existing words that have become part of many people's vocabularies this year revolve around weather phenomenon. I for one have certainly experienced more than my share of shocking night time awakenings from ice quakes or as scientists term them cryoseisms. I have also learned that a large pocket of cold arctic air is termed a polar vortex. It seems many have been affected by the shift south of the cold air this year and this has caused people to easily use this now very common expression.

So, like it or not, the language is changing. Whether we opt to keep up with it is sometimes our choice and other times simply a necessity.

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