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The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

English adds words as proper use deteriorates

No doubt we’ve all seen a wibble. No doubt we’ve all wibbled at some point. But what is a wibble? Google Docs is trying to tell me that wibble is not a word and offer suggestions: did you mean “wobble”? No, Google Docs, you misinformed twit, I meant wibble. The Oxford English Dictionary has tracked the word and deemed it is widely enough used to include it as an official part of the English language. Wibble, by the way, is a noun, which means “the trembling of the lower lip just shy of actually crying.” So Google Docs, I have added “wibble” to your dictionary, with much contempt for your inability to be with the times. The Oxford English Dictionary adds about 4,000 new words a year. Many are useful and necessary, such as “dunandunate”, which means “to overuse a word or phrase that has recently been added to your vocabulary.” Many are additional definitions and small changes in semantics. However, the OED lets a few through each year that are, frankly, abominations. This year, the ♥ symbol slipped through as a word. A word. OED defines this word as “to heart” which means to love. The verb form of heart (to heart) was also added. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the sentence “OMG I ♥ you” is grammatically correct. This type of sentence is plebeian, and usually reserved for overenthusiastic use by overly infatuated middle school couples. However, it is now as correct as “I find your company stimulating and incredible, and I do believe I am falling for you.” Such dunandunation is what caused the inclusion of this travesty. The Internet is both eroding and building the English language. The growth of my native tongue is often determined on glowing screens and online chat boards. While colloquialisms and intentionally (or unintentionally) incorrect grammar become more common, more accepted English becomes buried. The new trend is, while infuriating, also fascinating. If this is the way English is trending, I’m not one to argue. What is now considered common and perfectly acceptable speech would have been appalling only sixty years ago. As the times change, it’s easy to mistake the growth of a language for its destruction, however, it may be that sixty years down the road “LOL” and “OMG” will be just as common and socially acceptable as “that’s funny” and “oh my gosh” are now. However, there are some disturbing trends in the language emerging from the Internet: an almost omnipresent inability to use the correct forms of there and your. While the language is growing, correctness seems to be shrinking. These words and their subsequent forms (you’re, your, there, their, they’re) are essentially set, as they are either completely different words or contractions. This trend is a shrinking in the understanding of the language as it is, not growth. As the English language changes, words fall out of favor and new words arise to fill the holes. With the growth of the Internet and social media over the past decade, the language is evolving faster than ever. As a culture changes, the language of its people changes to adapt. However, incorrect use of the language is not a growth of the language. A language grows, but there is a reason that the Oxford English Dictionary never removes a word: a language should continually add new words, definitions, and tenses, but a language should never “evolve” beyond the correct use of that language.

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