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z0mg!! The Oxford English Dictionary to allow leet?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The establishment is so out of the loop I spend more time looking up words at urban dictionary than I do using traditional sites like the OED or Dictionary.com.

I accept that urbandictionary.com does include some silly stuff (eg flintstoning and dumbass) but there are terms like RTFM and hardcode which do appear in support forums et al. and are terms that you could quite easily come across, yet they do not appear in “the dictionary”.

I’m not 100% sure about what to include and what not to, because Usenet terms  and l33t et al are tied up in computing, coding, gaming and other internet activities, it is difficult to know what is jargon or colloquialism or meme or which are “words that should be in the dictionary”. But hell, if you look up something like leet, you get something along the lines of:

1. a special annual or semiannual court in which the lords of certain manors had jurisdiction over local disputes.
2. the area over which this jurisdiction extended, including the manor itself and, sometimes, nearby counties or shires. 

In all seriousness, these terms went out of use probably 300 years ago, whereas leet is a real “language” used today, but no mention of hacking, elite or suxx0rs.

I’m not saying the dictionary needs to include a whole bunch of “leet words”, I’m saying words like “leet” and “omg” are “words that should be in the dictionary”.

Admittedly it may be necessary to bowlderize some terms.

This is not me in my normal facetious mode, I’m being deadly serious. I accept that they haven’t yet included “z0mg” (ie oh my god < omg < OMG << z0mg), but really even really popular things like “lol”, “rolf” and “lmao” aren’t in there. The thing is these words aren’t even complex ideas, they are really just acronyms that have entered the language. And they HAVE entered the language (albeit only written :o), just not made it into “the dictionary”.

The OED has a rather inclusive policy:

“ It embraces not only the standard language of literature and conversation, whether current at the moment, or obsolete, or archaic, but also the main technical vocabulary, and a large measure of dialectal usage and slang (Supplement to the OED, 1933).[37] ”

So I’m not too sure what they are wating on.

Somethings to consider which I cannot be bothered to write about

urbandictionary.com has over 3,233,674 definitions. Time Magazine called it in their top 50 sites of 2008

Are emoticons words?

When I was a boy, to prove some point you would  “look it in the dictionary / encyclopedia” but I guess that just isn’t true anymore, now you would just “check the internet” or “google it”.

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