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To facilitate common understanding, all these words, whether easy or hard, common or unique should be appropriately documented in a dictionary (Winchester 87, qtd. in Brown). In the recent years, the society has used various words for informal communication and self expression in the internet. Among the most popular are the words “selfie, bitcoins, and twerk” which Oxford had announced as the new international words of 2013 (Rabe). This paper attempts to describe the qualifications of new words to be placed in a dictionary. It will also illustrate the implications for educators and students for including Oxford’s new words in a formal dictionary. Finally, it attempts to show why these new words should not be contained in formal dictionaries.
Definition of Oxford’s New Words
The new Oxford’s international words were developed at the height of technology and digital communication. For instance, selfie is used to describe a person who is fond of taking pictures of oneself which are then posted in the social networking sites. This word was first used in an online forum in Australia (Rabe). In addition, twerk is defined in the social media as “work hips in a sexual way” (“Twerk”). On the other hand, bitcoin refers to the new form of currency for making online purchases. It has been popularized as the new digital currency (“Bitcoin”). At present, the usage of bitcoins is still in the experimental stage so there is a probability that this word will not remain permanent.
Qualification of Words in Formal Dictionary The general rule for a new word to be qualified in a dictionary is that the word should gain a significant number of citations from different publications. This proves that many people are using the word. However, this rule does not apply to all situations. There are cases when too many citations give editors difficulty to identify the real meaning of the word (“How Does a Word”). For instance, after the word selfie became popular in an online forum in Australia, several words were also developed such as “drelfie” to refer to “drunken selfie” and “welfie” for “workout selfie” (Rabe). Moreover, a new word should also be cited for at least two to three years in various sources before it can be placed in a printed and formal dictionary (“How Do You Decide”). Many of the new words such as selfie, bitcoins, and twerk that were recognized by Oxford come largely come from social media. Since there is a lack of variation of sources, the new words still lack qualification even though they have reached an enormous amount of citations from social networking sites. A group of editors is responsible for evaluating whether or not certain new words are qualified to be placed in a formal dictionary. Their judgments are primarily based on the currency of the words, clarity of meaning, and the establishment of the words in the language of a society (“How Does a Word”). For this reason, editors need to have a substantial period of time to effectively evaluate the qualification of the new words. With the presence of the internet, it is very easy for certain words to become highly popular and gain numerous citations. Thus, the editors should not base their judgments solely on the frequency of citations. This applies to the various new words that Oxford is considering to place in its formal dictionary. Moreover, the new words identified by Oxford especially selfie and twerk are commonly considered as slang words which are used for informal communication in blogs and online forum among surfers in the internet community. This is evident in the dictionary for slang words which defines selfie as a photograph of oneself which is taken by oneself (“Selfie”
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