Citizen thinks this is a double plus ungood development.
New Oxford American Dictionary is now featuring doublespeak ..and ungrammar ..sad ..but predictable ..
It's stating the obvious, but English language dictionaries are no longer about preserving and documenting a language. They want to sell books, hence the march towards "sexing up" (quite literally) the dictionary by adding words like "sexting".
Perhaps their future advertising campaigns will say solely: "You can look up rude words when nobody's looking. The Dictionary..." ;)
Not new is it? George Orwell wrote about "Newspeak" in 1949 in the novel "1984". In this an "unperson" was someone who had lost the approval of the party.
This one's a verb, BeeDeeDubbleU, and is more about populism than politics IMO ;)
Only in the USA ( where apparently grammar is no longer taught ) could this "unfriend" be called a verb ..
I took it as the antonym of "befriend" ;)
You are not in the USA Andy ..thus you would never use "unfriend" in normal grammatical conversation , nor invent fake gerunds , nor consistently confuse their , there and they're ..or your, you're and definitely would know the difference between here and hear ..
I cringe frequently when reading thread titles and posts here from US posters or those "educated" in the UK after 1980 ..we can and do all make typos ..myself more than most ;)
I rarely use English on a daily basis other than to post here ( for the last 20 years I've been in a non English culture )..and post using a non English keyboard layout ..
But usually the the grammar of non English speakers is better than that of those who went to school in English speaking countries ..or even of those who teach English in the USA or the UK ..or those who govern the UK or governed the USA in recent years ..
Such institutionally accepted paucity of language and the subsequent reduction in the ability of the general population to express themselves coherently to anyone outside their particular "dialect region" ( and indeed modern UK English and USA English have more in common with "Brummy" or "Cockney" ..in that they are the verbal means of expression of the uneducated ..or regional clans or jargon ..and bear little relation to internationally recognizable English ) ..or to the manipulation of "dialect groups" by those who "must be for us cuz they talk and write like what we do"..a certain Ms Fox ..and many recently departed UK ministers come to mind ..who all spoke as if they had left school at age 12 ..
A language is just as dynamic as anything else in our world, and you can certainly expect it to change over time. Perhaps some of the older generations may not hear conversations with words like "sexting" and "unfriending" being used often, but I can assure you from first-hand experience that these words are considered very real amongst the younger generations, and I have witnessed the use of such words in dialogue myself.
I am probably the biggest offender when it comes to making up words in dialogue. Is that because I am uneducated and don't know how to use correct grammar or don't have an elaborate vocabulary? No. I do it because that's who I am and I have fun doing it. My personal opinion is we take language all too seriously. It is a means of communication first and foremost. I think it's silly to write/talk in the most professional tone you can come to because it takes away from character, normalcy, and so many other things that are more important to language than the correctness of grammar and diction.
The problem is when in the name of "dynamism" it places people who ostensibly speak the same language into "jargon ghettos" or "linguistic fashion cogniscentti"..
Example.. the french ( who want to seem "trendy" to their peers ) say "footing" when they mean "jogging" ..and "jogging" when they mean track suit and "tennis" when they mean "track shoes" ..and the street signs say "parking" for the place where you park your car ..wheras the word actually means what you do with your car when you park it ..
So ..all of this "jargon" ..and attempting to seem modern ..is just inaccurate ..and sloppy ..and leads to confusion if one is not from exactly the same culture and in some cases exactly the same neighbourhood..
Words like "unfriend" are nearer to what used to be called "pidgin" ..language evolves ..yes ..but it used to be that the acceptance of a word had to be widespread and to have lasted a certain amount of time prior to inclusion in dictionaries ..
now inclusion is almost instant .
.and the same words will be out of fashion just as fast ..and thus will have no sense ..to those ( about 5 billion currently ..of which 1 billion will have some knowledge of English at some time in their lives ) who have not been members of the fleeting phenomena that will have been facebook ..
BTW.. I've never seen you confused over your ..you're ..their.. there ..here ..hear ..etc :)
|My personal opinion is we take language all too seriously. It is a means of communication first and foremost. |
Precisely ..which is why one should not inhibit communication with the wider world ..by using "clique speak" ..which can only be understood by a small group of people with similar experiences and cultural references to oneself..
which is why textspeak ..and l33tsp3@k ..isn't allowed on these fora ( and usually gets snipped ..and rightly so )..and street speak ( if you use it ..means that you cant be understood outside your own barrio .. and even less so by someone who lives in another town ..or country ..but who supposedly speaks the same language that you do ) ...I use gonna and wanna sometimes ( due to time spent in the USA ) ..But I dont delude myself that they are correct ..and an Indian or Serbian or Afghan reading English as second language ..might well not understand my sentence if it included them ..
which would be my fault ..
and not "my bad" ..( because they would rightly ask .."your bad what?" ) ..do you see ?
There will always be cultural or social differences that will not be globally understood; that's the way it is. In a way you are suggesting a globally accepted language that follows very strict rules that should be adhered to, but then where does personality and creativity come into play, or perhaps the inclusion of a social-specific phrase? Why doesn't the whole world speak English? Or Chinese? Why is it that we cannot write translation programs that accurately translate one language to another? It is because there are some times no direct equivalents between languages, or there is a specific phrase culturally accepted to replace the more "literal" translation.
In my college literature classes when I got a paper back I always hated when my professor changed what I had to say in his or her corrections. My grammar would be correct, but somehow they chose to not accept it and substitute their own words or phrasing for mine. My point here is, everyone is going to read something differently regardless of correct grammar or diction, or social differences that may separate the reader from the writer.
While I completely understand what you are saying and where you are coming from, it is my personal belief that these "jargon" words are what our language is built on. So often we judge people's intelligence on their diction; I just wish we could get past this and focus more on what the individual has to say rather than critiquing how it is being said.
edited for grammar ;)
[edited by: eelixduppy at 2:36 am (utc) on Nov. 18, 2009]
|I just wish we could get passed this and focus more on what the individual has to say rather than critiquing how it is being said. |
The problem is that frequently only the speaker ..or their immediate circle of peers or family or neighbours ..can understand what they are saying ..due to the "jargon" ..and the assumption that everyone's jargon is the same ..or will be understood by all.
Did you ever see the monty python "banter" sketch ?
It makes my point perfectly ..and is extremely funny :)
|It's stating the obvious, but English language dictionaries are no longer about preserving and documenting a language. They want to sell books, hence the march towards "sexing up" (quite literally) the dictionary by adding words like "sexting". |
I agree that the Word of the Year is an obvious ploy to sell books, but as far as new words go...well, they are mostly going to be computer-related dumb words like unfriend. The words should still be added though as they are common words.
|The words should still be added though as they are common words. |
Shouldn't that read "if" they are common words? Which they are not as AFAIK. This is the first time I have heard of unfriend. Had I noticed it somewhere myself I would have assumed it was Orwellian.
The primary purpose of dictionaries is to document the use of language not pass judgement upon it. If new words appear in the language then they are added. However...
Where dictionaries fall down badly (in my opinion) is grammar. Here's an extract from my Collins dictionary for the word an.
|... used before an initial vowel or sometimes before an initial h e.g. ... an historic moment |
Whilst it is certainly true that some people mis-use an before an h, the fact that this is strictly incorrect is not mentioned (but when a slang word is defined, it's status as slang is noted). Omissions of this sort add a legitimacy to the incorrect use of language that is wholly unacceptable in my view.
As soon I saw that word I thought Google, be cause of the do no evil thing, which is no more when you read all the Computer Mags.
|"sexing up" (quite literally) |
Literally? My mind boggles.
|I cringe frequently when reading thread titles and posts here from US posters or those "educated" in the UK after 1980 |
Me too. Slashdot is even worse. That said, there are plenty of people who still speak and write very well.
I have also noticed that the difference between British and American English is much smaller among the well educated - in papers published in academic research journals, for example.
With new unnecessary words and the proliferation of abbreviated txt spk into common usage the English language is being dumbed down. It will soon reach a point where nobody really know what the person they are trying to communicate with really means.
Txt spk is the main culprit and the annoying habit that currently seems to be so popular amongst the ignorant masses of changing "er" into "a" at the end of a word. If I hear one more idiot say something like "teacha is round the corna" or refer to a dog as a lovely creatcha, I'll buy myself a rifle and head for a high building.
|With new unnecessary words and the proliferation of abbreviated txt spk into common usage the English language is being dumbed down. It will soon reach a point where nobody really know what the person they are trying to communicate with really means. |
Where have you been? The English language has always been degrading like this. Should we all start speaking like a Shakespeare play?
|Should we all start speaking like a Shakespeare play? |
I think you rather prove the point ..which some of us are attempting to make ..
That sentence makes no sense ..( primarily because of the inappropriate use of "like" ) ..an all too common occurrence nowadays.
However "Should we all start speaking Elizabethan English as though we were actors in a period Shakespearian play" ..is probably what you meant :) ..and would make sense ..and be precise ..
Because Shakespeare's plays are also performed in many places using modern English ..and that I presume is not what you were alluding to ..
Although your way of saying it ( and the inclusion of "like" ) and not using "Shakespearian" actually made it unclear ..
I agree with the point that you would seem to be trying to make ..( that language evolves )..however it is far, far easier to understand correct grammar ..than "street speak" ..especially if one is not a native "street speaker"
And misunderstandings have been known to start battles and even on occasion wars ..
Imagine trying to converse in "l33t" or "txt" with someone from another country ..it wouldn't "rock" ..would it ..:)
Which is why grammatically correct and "standard English" is the international norm ..and not some local slang infested street speak lazy ungrammatical corrupted version of it ..
Oh ..and for the web ..
The use of grammatically correct English in your copy , in the vast majority of cases ..considerably widens your customer base ..and shows that you do know what you are doing and that you are likely to be as conscientious with regard to the quality of your products ( and their shipping ) or services ..as you are with your language ..
Unless your target audience uses ( and prefers ) "street speak" or l33t ..in which case by all means use it ..we all adjust the way we express ourselves to suit specific audiences ..
But if you want to reach and be understood by the largest possible audience in your language ..the less jargon one uses ..and the better the grammar ..the more receptive they will be ..
I must be getting old. What does "l33t" mean?
Edit: OK - I googled it [bbc.co.uk...]
Oh BDW , the experiences and places you are missing out on :)) ..and the drive by attack downloads that they oft times harbour ..incidentally don't confuse l33t with haxor or haxxor ( it is written in both versions ) ( strangely enough my spell checker doesn't baulk at l33t ..but signals haxor and haxxor ) ..search both for amusement ..and whole new worlds ....but only search from Linux machines ..some places that are linked ( eventually ) to can seriously hurt your windows ..even with AV running ..
I think the fact that "friend" can be a verb in rare cases in English suggests that "unfriend" -- adding a common English prefix that is globally understood to mean "opposite" -- should be easily understood by whoever reads it. In this sense, I think that "unfriend" makes a bad example when one says this is a jargon word that is globally incomprehensible, because I highly doubt that. Perhaps the origin of the word may not be understood, but that still does not mean one could not know what it means, especially in the context of a sentence.
As far as I am concerned 133t falls into the same category as pig latin or any other word obfuscating "languages". It is meant to purposely hide the meaning of the words or phrase, not make them clearly understandable. So it is understandable that not very many people can understand it...that is the whole point IMO.
Let's shift away from the word "unfriend" for a second and focus on a random word I grabbed from a dictionary just now: "absquatulate". Honest question: has anyone here ever used this word in a sentence in their lifetime? I bet half if not more of you don't even know what this word means. I can honestly say I have used the word "unfriend" significantly more than I have used all of the odd-ball English words combined. Does this mean that words such as "absquatulate" do not have a place in the dictionary? Of course not. But my logic suggests that if words that don't EVER get used are in the dictionary like this example, then "unfriend" which I've heard used significantly more should have its place in a dictionary as well.
I think that I may safely raise my hand as falling into the group of people who have never used "absquatulate" ( and my spell checker thinks that I shouldn't use it either ) ..the spell checker claims that asbsquatulate is not a word ..but then my spell checker is currently set for English ..whereas yours is probably set for American :) ..
The origin says it is a made up American word ..much the same as unfriend :) ..
Think about it ..can one unfriend someone ..as in "I unfriended her" .., No ..because I may not be her only friend ..she may well still have simultaneous contact with other friends ..
It's not like riding a horse where one can be unseated ..because if you are thrown off or fall of ..you don't fall onto another horse ..nor could you have been sitting on more than one horse at a time ..
Similarly one cannot disfriend or defriend another ..it is not because a prefix exists that one can just attach it anywhere ..nor in the case of "ing" can one just tack it on anywhere and claim "gerund" status for the word ..
unfriend ( I refuse to dignify it with a capital ) is "clique speak" ..it is only likely to be used by members of "on line social sites" ..and is also designed to exclude those not in the elite "jargon group" ..
Somewhat in the way that the military do with such horrors as "deplane" ...the use of these words is designed to show membership of a restricted exclusive group ..
Not to ease coherent communication with those outside of the group ..or the maximum number of people ..
A WW administrator who uses the word unfriend? What is the world coming to? Standards are definitely slipping! ;)
Or should that be defo slipping?
(I have never heard the word friend being used as a verb, "befriend", yes but not friend.)
The changing pace of the English language is a little worrying for me. In a 100 years time we wont recognise the language we have today.
|However "Should we all start speaking Elizabethan English as though we were actors in a period Shakespearian play" ..is probably what you meant :) ..and would make sense ..and be precise .. |
Nope. You understood what I meant and I said it with fewer words.
We could attack the destruction of the English language all day for every poster ..like your use of the ellipsis ..without three periods ..using it all the time ..when it isn't necessary.
If "unfriend" is the word of the year, why does everyone I know "defriend"?
See also, any issue of Wired (or other pop tech culture) magazine.
I would so defriend the Oxford dictionary if I could.
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