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Internet-Speak Dominates Additions to Oxford English Dictionary

Hopefully, it's not too insidery to introduce you newbs to the latest words added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. That's right - 'insidery' and 'newb' are among the words that were taken from slang to vocabulary by the Oxford Dictionaries, a highly prestigious authority on the English language. Like much of our new vocabulary, these most recently added words have a decidedly techy feel.

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Tech Terms Get Legit

Every year, headlines are made as new words are added to the dictionary. The Oxford Dictionaries Online did just that in June, 2011, releasing a list of new words to be added to their online dictionary. As you look through the words, you may notice that a lot of them derive from online or texting slang.

This seems like a trend that is likely to continue, as the bulk of the innovation in the U.S. stems from technological advancement. The fast-paced nature of technological development, paired with the need for brevity in digital communication, is likely to continue to impact our language as time goes on. It may seem frustrating for those of us who aren't exactly current on what the kids are Twittering these days, but the inclusion of these words in a relevant dictionary might help you understand what your 12-year-old niece is talking about when she says her bestie gave her a mani-pedi over the weekend.

The Words

Here's a small selection of some of the words that made in into the Oxford Dictionaries Online, along with the dictionary's very articulate definitions:

  • Bestie: 'person's best friend'
  • Confirmation bias: 'the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories'
  • Cyber Monday: '(in the U.S.) the Monday following Thanksgiving, promoted by online retailers as a day for exceptional bargains'
  • Infographic: 'a visual image such as a chart or diagram used to represent information or data'
  • Lappy: 'a laptop'
  • Lifehack: 'a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one's time and daily activities in a more efficient way'
  • Mani-Pedi: 'a beauty treatment comprising both a manicure and a pedicure'
  • Network neutrality: 'the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites'
  • Permalink: 'a permanent static hyperlink to a particular Web page or entry in a blog'
  • Unfollow: 'stop tracking (a person, group or organization) on a social networking site'
  • ZOMG: '(used especially on electronic message boards as a sarcastic comment on an inexperienced or overenthusiastic poster) oh my God!'

ZOMG! ZOMG is in the Dictionary? Seriously?

If you're a bit frustrated by the essential canonization of these slang words, consider the alternative. In France, where the government is notoriously protective of the purity of the French language, a government office recently banned the use of the words 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' on television and radio. The move may seem draconian, but it is in line with the nation's general ban on using brand names to refer to something, much in the way we in the U.S. use 'Band-Aid' to refer to an adhesive bandage, or 'Kleenex' to refer to a disposable tissue.

Still, the move has plenty of critics in France, and those critics do make a fair point. 'Social network' is a generic term, and could refer to any number of online communities. Only the brand names truly describe Twitter and Facebook. As technology evolves to produce unique products like these, we're likely to see an increasing number of things that are best described by using their brand name. So maybe it's not so ridiculous that our language is fluid enough to incorporate new and weird words that are likely to become standard use in the future. At the very least, formally defining these words will help them function more descriptively. After all, it's handy to know what NSFW means in this day and age.

In addition to knowing common online slang, being tech literate means knowing some handy tech shortcuts.