Friday, June 10, 2005

Like a rash

So, maybe it's something to do with the Friday feeling at our nation's finest dailies, but news of the latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary is all over them like a rash. The esteemed publication has apparently added 1500 new words. This dictionary publishing phenomenon "hey, look what new words we've added" is very interesting. To what extent are the new words selected indicative of long-lasting lexical change? To what extent might they just be lexical flashes in the pan, mere linguistic whims, included more for their media-sexy appeal that might help the publishers flog a few more copies? As passionate as I am about dictionaries, even I have to concede that it must be one hell of a job having to shift them off the booksellers' shelves.

So, top of anyone's media-sexy list has to be anything to do with Hinglish, the product in this context of the roaring success of the Sanjeev Bhaskar-Meera Syal genius factory. From this source, we find "aunty-ji" and "chuddies" added.

Hmm, let's see... Next in the media-sexy line-up is anything to do with the beautiful game, and what do we find but Sir Alex Ferguson's rather quaint expression, "squeaky-bum-time". Now come on, Collins, are you really trying to tell me that this phrase has any kind of real currency?!!

The other major category identified in the papers is the "chav" phenomenon. This "new" word has been the subject of many a column inch, but what is interesting here is the way the word is allegedly spreading. We started with "chav", but also included are "chavtastic", "chavette" and "chavish". Think about what processes of lexical change are going on here...

Check it out. And if anyone can find the full list of 1500 words somewhere out there in cyberspace, do gimme a shout and I'll do the linkylove here.

Hinglish makes its debut in English dictionary

Chavs find place in dictionary

Collins English dictionary adds more Japanese words


At 7:32 pm, Anonymous Mauricio Calkins said...

I think it''s fucking gorgeous.


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