Saturday, January 02, 2010

Reflecting on new words

After all the posts on new words of 2009, and new words of the last decade, and all the other posts about new words on this blog (probably about 50 of them over the last 5 years), here's a really excellent feature article from the Sydney Morning Herald that takes a more reflective look on which words last and why certain words become popular.

Among the many good observations Jacqueline Maley makes in her article is the point that "technology, along with American English, is by far the biggest force for change in the English language today". And she goes on to ask "How can we determine which neologisms are passing fads and which should be included in dictionaries, our lexicological gift to the next generation? How to decide which words are worthy of being anointed official representatives of our language? Or is it our dictionaries that must change, moving from stolid documents of rusted-on record to more dynamic, changeable texts?".

What I really like about this article is that it takes a wider view. Rather than just list loads of new words (like many recent broadsheet news articles on the same theme) it considers what's going on in the longer term, and asks some interesting questions about where language is heading. Plus - to be totally reductive and make it all about A level English - it's a brilliant style model for feature articles in ENGA4 Language Interventions.

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