Collins Dictionary Wants You To Vote For Its Next Word On Twitter
Can I vote "no confidence"?
People of the Internet! For too long we have been subjugated to derision for not conforming to the rigidly idealized grammar and vocabulary of our forefathers, but no longer! Collins Dictionary is giving us a chance to choose a new word that’ll make it into their next edition — over Twitter, of course. You know, the way all important language-based decisions are made these days.
Certainly there is a a lot of appeal in such a populous-driven campaign. The biggest criticism of traditional dictionaries (other than the fact that they are obsolete in a post-Google world) is that they are typically published with a prescriptive frame of reference rather than a descriptive one, which gives a few editors and writers entirely too much influence over an entire language. Words achieve respectability through their inclusion in dictionaries, which is why everybody gets worked up when a word that they don’t considering “worthy” makes it in. You know, as if the word “twerk” is somehow going to pollute all the other words with its gaucheness or something.
On the other hand! Those people who get all haughty about which words should be dignified with an official definition might have a point this time, because all of the suggested words are legitimately very stupid — in part because you don’t need a dictionary’s help to work out what most of them mean just by looking at them.
Here’s the full list on their “Twictionary” page (which is also a stupid word, ugh):
#adorkable: dorky in an adorable way
#fatberg: a large mass of solid waste, grease, etc, clogging a sewage system
#gaybourhood: gay-friendly neighbourhood, eg Castro in San Francisco
#felfie: a farmer selfie
#duckface: the traditional ‘pouting’ facial expression in selfies
#vaguebooking: posting deliberately vague status updates on social media to prompt a response
#fraktivist: an activist who protests against fracking
#euromaiden: the original pro-Europe protests in Ukraine, named for Maidan Square in Kiev
#nomakeupselfie: a selfie of a woman without make-up, posted online to raise awareness for a charity
As Collins is published in Glasgow and has much closer ties to UK-based slang, there are obviously some cultural factors at play here. For example, we don’t have a whole lot of #fatbergs around here, but it’s a big disgusting deal in the sewers of London. But come on. This feels more like a attempt at clever marketing than anything else. Clearly some PR person at Collins who doesn’t use Twitter and who doesn’t quite get what the kids are talking about these days thought this idea up in the second hour of a drunk lunch meeting. Seriously, “nomakeupselfie?” That is just three words turned into one word.
That being said, we’re casting our vote for #adorkable — if only because it’s one of those annoying portmanteaus that everyone thinks they invented, so it would be nice to be able to point to a dictionary definition and say, “No, genius, you were not the first person to ever mash up ‘dorky’ and ‘adorable,’ it’s right here under ‘adore.’ Get over yourself.”
Votes (more specifically, tweets with the appropriate Collins-approved hashtags) are being accepted until midnight on May 28th, and the final word will appear in the October edition of the dictionary. Decide carefully, Internet. The last thing we need is the rest of the lexicographical community frowning on us for legitimizing the word “felfie.” seriously, try to say the word “felfie” out loud and tell me that ridiculous collection of consonants should be given a spot between “fele” and “felice.”
Meanwhile in related links
- Dictionaries are wrong about how siphons work
- We spoke to a Merriam-Webster lexicographer about the definition of “love”
- Scrabble will add a word to its dictionary based on popular opinion
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