On Wednesday, Oxford English Dictionary added the following two words to the growing compendium of expressions:
Twerk – a provocative dance move
Selfie – A photograph taken of oneself using a phone
Twitter went slightly agog with expressions such as “we are getting dumber”, “English language is dead”. @Arriannamarie reacted in the following tweets (follow her by the way, and thank me later):
Every time words are added to the dictionary, people reveal themselves as knowing very little about languageAlso, when words are added to the dictionary, people show themselves to be uncritical readersDictionaries, in short, are tools of power. The power to define what is and isn’t “legitimate” language, which used terms are “acceptable”This is why you’ll never see me appeal to a dictionary definition to bolster my argument
That said, I will like to take on the argument that English language dead and this development is dumb.
What is language?
Without subscribing to a dictionary definition in order to avoid conflict of interest, language is the glue that holds society together – when shared, communication flows.
Language may not necessarily be verbal all the time, but it’s the capsule that enshrines messages passed in inter-personal interactions;
even intra-personal communication – In what language do you talk to yourself?
Now I ask, should language dictate “the pace” for society or vice versa?
It isn’t until a term is immortalised into the dictionary that is becomes language – language has been before the dictionary, and after the dictionary, it will continue to the [flashback to writings on cave walls].
As far as I am concerned, twerking has been going on long before Miley Cyrus thought to get mischievous on the VMA platform with poor Robin Thicke (some may consider him lucky). It might even be a traditional dance move in some societies that don’t fancy blowing their trumpet on the Internet yet. how beautiful it would be the day an historical video surfaces and generations can say, “aaah see that pretty lady twerking”
Language is anything but static – I applaud Oxford Dictionary “board” for evolving with the times and documenting the transition. The global society is happening to English language, not the other way round. Hence, I say this in a gentle & almost motherly tone, deal with it.