Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Oxford Dictionary Pays Respect to Street Language

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Oxford Dictionary Pays Respect to Street Language

Article excerpt


RESPECT is due: the Oxford English Dictionary has caught up with the language of the streets, and has put it in its new volume.

The latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary includes the terms bling-bling - "(The wearing of) expensive designer clothing and flashy jewellery", and bad ass - "A tough, aggressive, or uncooperative person; a troublemaker."

They are just some of 3,500 new terms in the edition, mirroring extraordinary changes in language over the 10 years since SOED was last published.

Many new entries reflect trends in British society and culture.

Essex man, for long the butt of jokes from the rest of the country, can point to his official definition: "A confident, affluent young businessman ... characterised as voting Conservative and benefiting from the entrepreneurial wealth created by Thatcherite policies."

Recent literary and movie trends are taken into account, such as Aga saga, sex and shopping, and chick-lit/chick-flick. Science fiction shows its hold on the British imagination. From a galaxy far, far away come the Jedi, the Force, and the Dark Side; going boldly into the edition are Klingon, warp drive and warp factor.

Suitably, perhaps, another new entry is anoraky: "Socially inept and studious or obsessive person ... with unfashionable and largely solitary interests."

Politics is a major source, with new entries confirming the impact of Tony Blair's government on the national consciousness. In come New Labour, Old Labour, Clause Four, Blairism, Blairite, and spinmeister: "An expert at presenting information or events to the media in a favourable light."

Providing balance, John Major's Back to Basics gets a mention - though he may not want that illfated "moral revival" highlighted.

"The rate of change of English has speeded up," said Robert Scriven, editorial director of dictionaries at Oxford University Press. …

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