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'Retweet' and 'woot' make Oxford dictionary debut

Category: Technology

Published: 19th Aug 2011 13:07:02

Woot! Technology-inspired words are among the 400 added to the newest Concise Oxford English Dictionary.

They include retweet - to pass on a message on Twitter, and textspeak - a language that typically young people use to talk lyk dis.

Other words such as cyberbullying and sexting also make their debut.

"These additions are just carrying on the tradition of a dictionary that has always sought to be progressive," said OED editor Angus Stevenson.

"Social networking sites have created a real language of the net," he explained in a blog post.

"We've noticed that new words come into currency much more quickly as a result of the internet, as people see friends, or friends of friends using new words and copy them."

He said that words like woot or w00t - an exclamation of triumph and success - can originate abroad but rapidly gain mass usage across the rest of the English-speaking world.

I don't know why people can't just say 'hurrah' but maybe I'm being old fashioned.”

"The expression 'woot' began in America but was picked up very quickly by people in Britain, as a result of the internet breaking down international boundaries," said Mr Stevenson.

Launched in 1911, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary was intended to be an evolving, modern catalogue of words.

Its first edition, which is 100 years old this month, included popular slang terms such as shirty, parky and piffle.

Emerging technology has always been a big driver for new words. The 1911 edition included biplane - a aeroplane with two sets of wings, and marconigram - a message sent via radio.

Other pre-existing words have had their meanings shaped by popular tech culture.

In the most recent edition, follower has been amended to also mean "someone who is tracking a particular person, group, etc. on a social networking site".

Meanwhile, friend has been redefined by the Facebook generation to simply mean someone you regularly interact with online.

Senior editor of the dictionary, Fiona McPherson said that it was important to make sure new words have entered common usage.

"First and foremost it's about the evidence. So as long as people are using it and we can find independent examples."

She explained that independent could mean appearances in newspapers and books.

"Some words are flash in the pan, but you can normally gauge by using your own judgement whether or not something is going to have a life," added Ms McPherson.

Despite the embracing of new, hip words and phrases, the editors of the dictionary openly admit they are not always enthusiastic users of the new lexicon.

"I don't know why people can't just say hurrah but maybe I'm being old fashioned," said Mr Stevenson.

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BBC News, 2011. 'Retweet' and 'woot' make Oxford dictionary debut [Online] (Updated 19th Aug 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/179109/Retweet-and-woot-make-Oxford-dictionary-debut [Accessed 25th Jul 2014]

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