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Column: Oxford Dictionary, stop trying to be so hip

Published: Monday, September 19, 2011

Updated: Monday, September 19, 2011 13:09

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Nate Lipka

It's over, folks. Step away from the book shelf because "sexting" has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

This is the creepiest thing I've heard about in quite some time. These days I've only heard "sexting" used in "Dateline" stories in which minors were spreading child pornography in schools and online. It's a term that is shameful. Why, Oxford? Why are you doing this to us?

Some of us – most of us, dare I say – don't even own a physical dictionary, let alone the latest edition. The internet is our dictionary. However, this does not excuse the fact that some of the latest additions are also "woot," "LOL," and "OMG."

These are not words! At most, they are sounds and abbreviations. Nerdy computer slang that was invented by kids has no business in a scholarly document. I, for one, don't even want this to be recorded in history.

What is the shelf life of these words, anyway? The word "retweet" was also recently added to its pages. This word was literally invented to serve one particular purpose on a website that might not even exist in the next decade. If you don't have a Twitter account, and don't know what the word "retweet" means, is the dictionary really the first place you're going to look?

I see what you're trying to do, Oxford English Dictionary. You're trying to be hip, aren't you? You're about as hip as my grandmother, who will now, thanks to you, be asking me if I know what "sexting" and "woot" mean.

I actually count my blessings that my parents aren't very internet-savvy. The internet is a dark, scary place. UrbanDictionary.com alone has been known to give me nightmares. This is the place "woot" and "lulz" should live. It is the ideal cage for nonsense words that mean nothing to those who actively use it and everything to those trying to understand youngsters.

I can understand the good intentions, but I wonder where they draw the line. Every day there are new ridiculous memes and catchphrases that spawn online, but this doesn't mean we should give them any attention.

When a community forms online, they also form their own language. Those 4chan kids have so many inside jokes that it's futile to try and work out what they're talking about, and ONTD has so many abbreviations they might as well be talking in code.

These are just two online communities. It's embarrassing enough that I understand most of it, so why is Oxford trying to make it happen? Knock it off, Oxford Standard Dictionary.

You're clearly showing your age.

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