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New words defy, get illogical response

Gazette staff September 11th, 2013

Oxford Dictionaries sent the Internet into a tizzy last week when they announced that “twerk” and “selfie” would be added to Oxford Dictionaries Online. Word spread like a meme as the news appeared on sites such as Mashable, TechCrunch, The New York Times blog The Learning Network, The Washington Post website and, of course, Fox News — not to mention its appearance on The Oklahoman’s website, NewsOK, with the headline, “Thanks, Miley: ‘Twerking’ Now in Dictionary.”

Self-proclaimed protectors of the English language near and far have worked themselves into a frenzy — but not a dancing frenzy. (Because that would be twerking). They didn’t take any pictures of themselves in a frenzy, either, apparently. (Because that would be taking selfies, another controversial addition.)

What many of the vehe- mently annoyed failed to realize, though, was that not every word added to Oxford Dictionary Online is added to the revered Oxford English Dictionary.

“The dictionary content in ODO focuses on current English and includes modern meanings and uses of words,” Oxford Dictionaries wrote in a note included at the bottom of its announcement. “The OED, on the other hand, is a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, including many obsolete and his- torical terms. Words are never removed from the OED.”

Approximately 1,000 new words are added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online every year.

Maybe alarmists don’t want people reading their blogs 100 years from now to know exactly what Miley Cyrus was doing at the MTV Video Music Awards — or how much they cared about it.

We’re not really sure.

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