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Watchwords: English, and the Oxford English Dictionary, continue to evolve

Watchwords: English, and the Oxford English Dictionary, continue to evolve | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
Speakers of English often take pride in how different their language is from French. (Many French speakers, of course, feel exactly the same about English.) The destiny of the French language has, at least in theory, been guided by the Académie Française ever since its founding in 1635. English has no such academy — no institution of any kind that seeks to govern, regularize and restrain the entire language. If French can be imagined as a formal garden, English is a wild and luxuriant forest. From time to time, people make efforts to get parts of it under control, yet it keeps growing madly off in all directions.

The closest thing to an official record keeper of the English language is the Oxford English Dictionary. It began to publish in 1884, under the name “A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles” — and unlike the lexicographers working for the Académie Française, the Oxford editors have always aimed to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. They certainly had opinions about the language, but they never set out to bend words to their will. The first full edition of the OED was completed in 1928, by which time sections of it were already obsolete. When the second edition appeared in 1989, it ran to 21,728 pages. Since then, thanks mainly to the Internet, English has exploded at an ever faster rate.

In all likelihood there will never again be a printed edition of the complete Oxford English Dictionary. Revisions, updates and additions are constantly being made online. But to this day, rightly or wrongly, the OED retains a certain mystique. If you’re having an argument about a particular word and anyone says, “Look it up in a dictionary,” you could justifiably open any of a dozen competing volumes. But if you’re told “Look it up in THE dictionary,” chances are you’ll turn to the OED.

I think this hallowed status helps to explain the shock and dismay that followed news reports a couple of weeks ago about the 1,000 new expressions that have now entered the database of OxfordDictionaries.com. Many people find something profoundly disturbing about the quasi-official recognition that has now been granted to terms like “awesomesauce” (excellent), “bruh” (male friend), “butthurt” (overly offended or resentful) and “pwnage” (in video gaming, a boastworthy triumph). On the Oxford website, one commenter wrote: “Essentially, there is now a lot more trash cluttering up our nice, clean dictionary.”

I understand the annoyance, but I don’t think Oxford’s goal was ever to be nice and clean. Because the 1,000 new expressions have been published online, they don’t displace any words that are already in “the dictionary,” no matter how old and little-used. The arrival of “fatberg” (a large mass of solid waste in a sewer system, consisting of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets) doesn’t entail the departure of geriatric terms like “harquebusery” or “querimonious.”

To make a subtle, but crucial distinction, these new expressions have not immediately entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford publishes a variety of dictionaries, large and small, and its lexicographers select their words from the abundant material on OxfordDictionaries.com. No doubt dozens or hundreds of the new terms will eventually find their way into the OED — it would be poorer without the likes of “digital footprint” or “keyboard warrior” (someone who posts aggressively on social media). But not all of the new words will enter the OED, nor should they. Terms like “Redditor” (a registered user of Reddit) will last only as long as that particular website endures. And with luck, abbreviations like “jel” (jealous) and “IDC” (I don’t care) will fade away over time.

But even if they linger, the sky of language is not falling. Nobody is compelling us to stroll around saying “kayfabe” (in professional wrestling, the maintenance of the illusion that a staged fight is authentic). That word is new to me, and I’m not troubled by its appearance on an Oxford website. Awesomesauce, OK?

markabley@sympatico.ca

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Africa’s advocates say fossil fuel subsidies must go | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network

Africa’s advocates say fossil fuel subsidies must go | Alex Kirby | Climate News Network | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it

Developed countries should rapidly end subsidies for fossil fuels, says a group established to argue for equitable and sustainable development for Africa.

The Africa Progress Panel (APP), chaired by the Nobel laureate and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, says the G20 countries should set a timetable for phasing out the payments, with a ban on exploration and production subsidies as soon as 2018.

“Many rich country governments tell us they want a climate deal, but at the same time billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are subsidising the discovery of new coal, oil and gas reserves,” Mr Annan said. “They should be pricing carbon out of the market through taxation, not subsidising a climate catastrophe.”

The APP also urges African governments, investors, and international financial institutions to increase investment in energy significantly in order to unlock Africa’s potential as a global low-carbon superpower.

 

Click headline to read more and access hot links--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Powerful UN ad campaign uses Google searches to show gender inequality

Powerful UN ad campaign uses Google searches to show gender inequality | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
A branch of the United Nations that focuses on gender equality has unveiled a new campaign that utilizes Google's search bar to showcases the world's sweeping, misogynistic attitudes toward women.

Via Charles Tiayon
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Charles Tiayon's curator insight, October 23, 2013 11:47 PM

A branch of the United Nations that focuses on gender equality has unveiled a new campaign that utilizes Google's search bar to showcases the world's sweeping, misogynistic attitudes toward women.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/campaign-google-searches-show-sexism-article-1.1494436#ixzz2ibkBH3Hk

Isabella El-Hage's curator insight, March 18, 2015 5:45 PM

This article links to Unit Three through "attitudes towards gender". The UN created an advertisement using the auto-filled Google search bars after typing in the word women. The auto-filled searches were frightening with popular searches like, "women should be put in their place", "women should be controlled", "women should be disciplined", and more disturbing searches. This advertisement utilized technology to show popular attitudes towards women around the world. 

Logan Haller's curator insight, March 23, 2015 2:59 PM

This relates to Unit 3 because it has to do with cultural differences in attitudes toward gender. The United Nations has unveiled a new campaign that uses google to show worlds attitudes toward women. It shows the ideas on what women should and shouldn't do. Kareem Shuhaibar  said that the campaign shows how far they still have to go to achieve gender equality. She hopes this is a wake up call and that their message will travel far.  

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Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement

Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
In a followup to his latest infocomic exploring "What it means to be poor in America," graphic journalist Andy Warner illustrates the idea behind "the poverty line" and the origins of the important measurement used for determining citizens'...

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How Climate Change Threatens The Ability Of Global Populations To Rise Out Of Poverty

How Climate Change Threatens The Ability Of Global Populations To Rise Out Of Poverty | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
Hundreds of millions across the globe struggling to rise out of poverty are at "high" or "extreme" climate risk, according to a new report.

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A vision in need of some clarity | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog

A vision in need of some clarity | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
At the meetings and panels at the annual meetings of the World Bank in Washington earlier this month, high levels of energy and excitement as well as anxie (The @WorldBank's new strategic vision to end poverty needs some clarity:
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World's first Bitcoin ATM sees 81 exchanges, $10,000 in transactions during first day - GeekWire

World's first Bitcoin ATM sees 81 exchanges, $10,000 in transactions during first day - GeekWire | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
History was made in Bitcoin world on Tuesday when the world's first Bitcoin ATM opened in Vancouver, B.C.

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29 Uncomfortable Myths About Soaring Poverty In America - Forbes

29 Uncomfortable Myths About Soaring Poverty In America - Forbes | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
29 Uncomfortable Myths About Soaring Poverty In America
Forbes
So let us indulge ourselves in a little bit of fact checking. Zero Hedge has a piece telling us all 29 Uncomfortable Truths About Soaring Poverty In America.
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Stephen Harper’s Human Rights Violations in Africa

Stephen Harper’s Human Rights Violations in Africa | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
Should Africans pursue Stephen Harper for crimes against humanity?

The Africa Progress Report 2015 suggests they may have a solid moral, if not necessarily legal, case.

Led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Africa Progress Panel highlights Canada and Australia as two countries that “have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate.” The mainstream group concludes that Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda have shown “far higher level of ambition” to lessen CO2 emissions than Canada.

The report, which was released last week, adds to a significant body of evidence showing that anthropogenic global warming poses a particularly profound threat to Africans. Although hardest hit by climate change, the terrible irony is that Africa among all continents is least responsible for the problem.

Via Firoze Manji
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An interesting look into Canadian human rights violations

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Text to Text | Einstein and ‘Where Science and Religion Coexist’

Text to Text | Einstein and ‘Where Science and Religion Coexist’ | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
We take on the question of the compatibility of science and religion, with a 1930 Op-Ed written by Albert Einstein; a 2013 report on a science and religion conference; and a video of physicist Richard Feynman.

Via Charles Fischer
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Charles Fischer's curator insight, October 31, 2013 8:41 AM

A fantastic pairing for exploring science and religion. As a potentially heated and/or controversial topic, make sure to keep the conversation anchored to the texts as much as possible and choose the opening question with care.

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Who Needs Phone Snooping? Russia Accuses People's Republic of China Of Appliance Espionage

Who Needs Phone Snooping? Russia Accuses People's Republic of China Of Appliance Espionage | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
Russian authorities reportedly found microchips in a batch of imported teakettles from China.

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10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly

10 Tips on How to Write Less Badly | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it

Most academics, including administrators, spend much of our time writing. But we aren't as good at it as we should be. I have never understood why our trade values, but rarely teaches, nonfiction writing.

 

In my nearly 30 years at universities, I have seen a lot of very talented people fail because they couldn't, or didn't, write. And some much less talented people (I see one in the mirror every morning) have done OK because they learned how to write.


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Chris Goldsmith's curator insight, October 29, 2013 5:39 AM

Some good stuff here.

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Canada ranks 20th on global gender inequality index as world gap ...

Canada ranks 20th on global gender inequality index as world gap ... | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
The world's gender gaps narrowed slightly this year, with Iceland showing the least inequality among men and women and Canada ranking 20th overall, a report by the World Economic Forum found.
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Child marriage in India: The results of the ugliest side of poverty ...

Child marriage in India: The results of the ugliest side of poverty ... | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
I had a wonderful childhood growing up in a small village in Andhra Pradesh, India. The memories I cherish most are playing in the green paddy fields and counting stars at night till my eyes drooped. Everyone knew everyone ...
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涉最多金額‧網絡犯罪最嚴重 Chinese Cybercrime Seen by Chinese LEA as Most Serious Threat

涉最多金額‧網絡犯罪最嚴重 Chinese Cybercrime Seen by Chinese LEA as Most Serious Threat | Global Perspectives | Scoop.it
(布城30日訊)網絡罪案敲警鐘,我國的網絡犯罪已經超越販毒活動,成為涉及最多金額的罪案。

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