Those in charge decide which words matter

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.By Michael Skapinker

Is “aarrghh” a word? Not if you are playing Scrabble with me. If it is not in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary: put your tiles back and think again. “Aargh” is acceptable (an expression of anguish, horror, rage, or other strong emotion, according to the OED), but not “aarrghh”. My board, my rules.

Others disagree. “Aarrghh” appears in the Collins Official Scrabble Words. Collins’ latest edition also includes “thang”, “innit” and “nang”. Commentators greeted the Scrabble book by bemoaning the decline of the language and berating publishers who pandered to the young.

The new Collins book appeared on the same day that the CBI, the UK employers’ organisation, published a survey showing that 42 per cent of companies were dissatisfied with school leavers’ English skills. Are the two events connected?

Read more here.

Global Language Monitor’s comment about the supposed ‘decline of English’.

We at the Global Language Monitor have noted that for at least two hundred years folks as diverse as Benjamin Franklin (eliminating and adding new letters), Noah Webster and George Bernard Shaw (simplifying spelling), and George Orwell (simplifying grammar) have long argued. Ghoti and chips anyone?

Now that this is actually happening in the early 21st century, it is most interesting to note that these changes are being driven by the youthful users of the language, as has been the case since the earliest days of the language.

Consider: Sumer is icumen in! / Lhude sing cuccu!

Which ancient forbear playing an early version of Scrabble(tm), had the audacity to recognize ‘cuckoo’ for ‘cuccu’ or for that matter accept ‘loud’ for ‘lhude’?

One note of caution: these same folks have decided that is perfectly fine to intermix letters with words, so you now can find ‘gr8′ substituting for ‘great’.

Is this something the up with which you will simply not put?

Paul JJ Payack



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‘Refudiate': Why Sarah Palin’s Twitter flub may outlast her

By John Austin | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Pundits jumped on Sarah Palin when she recently tweeted that people should “refudiate” plans for a New York City mosque near Ground Zero.

“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,” Palin tweeted.

The tweet was quickly deleted, and refute replaced refudiate, but the clips of Palin using the word on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show have not gone away. Nor has the flap over how the former governor and vice presidential candidate let her linguistic slip show.

Still, while Palin is no Shakespeare — a famous coiner of words — it may be wrong to misunderestimate refudiate too quickly.

“In English, the tradition is words bubble up from the people,” said Paul J.J. Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor in Austin. “If it’s used, it’s accepted as a word.”

George W. Bush’s notorious use of misunderestimate is a good example of how what’s called a portmanteau word can find acceptance.

Like an old-fashioned portmanteau traveling case that opens into two compartments like a book, portmanteau words such as refudiate combine two other words in form and meaning.  [Read More.]



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“Refudiating” Word Games: What would Edwin Newman Think?

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What would have the late newsman and grammar guru Edwin Newman thought about airwaves and cyberspace filled with “refudiate” and “guido?”

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By JERE HESTERSep 16, 2010
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It’s hard to refudiate that we lost one of our great TV journalists and guardians of the language with the recent death of NBC’s Edwin Newman.

In fact, it’s impossible to refudiate – because “refudiate” isn’t a word.

We imagine that Newman, who displayed a strong sense of humor in his TV commentaries, writings and appearances on David Letterman’s old morning show and “Saturday Night Live,” might have gotten a rueful chuckle out of Sarah Palin’s tweeted mash-up of “refute” and “repudiate.”

Newman, whose death at age 91 was reported Wednesday, famously asked in “Strictly Speaking,” his 1974 bestseller on the state of language, “Will America be the death of English?”

GLM Comment:  In fact the exact opposite has occurred — American English has spurred the English to a new level, from Old English, to Middle English, to Modern English to what might be deemed, in contemporary fashion, English 2.0.

Recent evidence doesn’t bode well for the mother tongue. The folks at Merriam-Webster this month named “refudiate” the Word of the Summer – and reported that the non-word spurred many searches on its online dictionary.

Meanwhile, The Global Language Monitor last week released its annual list of the popular “telewords” (which isn’t really a word itself). Placing No. 3 on the group’s “Top Words from Television” list for the 2009-2010 TV season was “guido.”

That anti-Italian slur became a catchword, thanks to the cast of “Jersey Shore” – a place, at least on MTV, where young people foolishly acting out stereotypes are celebrated and rewarded. (In other signs of the times, The Monitor’s top two entries were “BP Spillcam” and “dysfunctional.”) [Read More.]



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World Cup 2010’s Dubious Linguistic Achievement

Vuvuzela accepted into English language lexicon

Austin, TX July 12, 2010 – The World Cup 2010 was an historical affair in many regards, the a first for the African continent; a first for the South African people and, of course, a first for Spain.

Another perhaps unintended consequence of World Cup 2010 is the acceptance of the word, vuvuzela, into the English language lexicon according to the qualifying criteria established by Austin-based Global Language Monitor.

The vuvuzela are the seemingly ubiquitous brightly colored plastic horns, said to have the potential to inflict lasting hearing loss because of the loudness and pitch of a typical vuvuzela (B flat below middle C, according to the BBC).

“Vuvuzela appears certain to achieve a place (or at least some notoriety) within the ranks of the English language.  Vuvuzela has already appeared some 2450 times in a recent search of the New York Times archive,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor.  “That is quick a few citations for the ‘first draft of history; even a quick Google search yield  over 6,000,000 hits on the term.”

The thresholds to cross into the English Lexicon include 25,000 citations meeting criteria for breadth of geographic dispersion along within a depth of media formats including the Internet, blogosphere and social media along with various formats of print and electronic media.  Since 2003, the Global Language Monitor has been recognizing new words or neologisms once they meet these criteria.

The word vuvuzela, itself of uncertain origin.  Some think it is related to the summoning horn, the kudu, for African villages.  Others speculate it to be derived from an onomatopoeic Zulu word for the sound ‘vu-vu’, or a word for noise making, while many believe it to be ‘township slang’ for shower (of noise).

English gets a new word – thanks to SA

Jul 18, 2010 12:00 AM | By Sashni Pather


The World Cup was historic in a few ways: a first for the African continent, South Africa’s people and for Spain.

WHAT A HOOT: Vuvuzela has won global recognition

Read More



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