Saturday, February 02, 2008

Word nerds, infomaniacs and slacktivists

Apologies for such a long delay in getting new stuff up on the blog - loads of January exam marking and extra work to do - but thanks to ex-SFXian Charissa for keeping things ticking over. We'll be keeping the posts as regular as an old lady on prune juice from now on. So, from turds to nerds...

There's nothing wrong with being a nerd. I, for one, am proud to be a word nerd. It's the best type of nerd, perhaps followed by speech geeks and lexicographin' boffins. You get the general idea.


Anyway, here is a great article from New Scientist magazine (in pdf format) all about how word nerds are tracking new words using the power of modern technology - not betamax video recorders and Action Man walkie talkies, but the internet and stuff. It gives a fascinating insight into how new words are tracked and recorded in the digital age and seems to prove beyond any doubt that the pace of language change has picked up with the growth of the internet.

The article features a guest appearance from The Simpsons' fandiddlytastic religious loon, Ned Flanders, whose love of indiddlyfixes has led to a linguistic reappraisal of how they're formed. Fascinating stuff.

Elsewhere, this article from The Times takes a look at 21st century neologisms (that's new words and phrases to you and me). These examples are linked to what advertising execs and lifestyle commentators call "social trends": new labels for different groups of consumers in society. We covered a similar article 2 years ago here when we looked at Ladults and HEIDIs. While many of the groups described only exist in an ad-man's wet dream, the word formation processes are interesting to look at. Take these for example - infomania, preheritance and slacktivism - and have a think about how they've been formed.

Useful for:
ENA5 - Contemporary Language Change

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