Hello SOTGC community,
“Selfie,” “Hashtag,” “Turducken” and the slang meaning of “catfish”- what do all these words have in common? They have all been recently added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. You are probably scratching your head right now, asking yourself why these words were never “acknowledged” words in the first place because you have been using them for what seems like decades. It’s hard to imagine that these words didn’t exist before, but I immediately started to feel better about my own words and grammar.
Here is why: When in school … how often did teachers “edit” with a (preferably red that cannot be missed) pen because, according to common practice, a word cannot be used as a verb because it is considered a noun only, or, this sentence structure is a fragmented sentence? Yes, these were the moments that made me believe that I was not a writer, and, in fact, it usually discouraged me from writing emails, letters, or articles.
When Marney asked me if I would like to be a contributor, my first reaction was, “Who me? But I don’t write.” Agreeing, but still nervous, I started to write, and what I found is that it is actually a lot easier than I had ever thought or that my grades ever reflected in school.
Grammar has certainly standardized our common practices and languages; however, I would argue that it has also confined us from inventing new words. If we never stretch the boundaries as we know it once in a while, then how would new words make it into the dictionary? After all “OMG,” “TBT,” or “BRB” would have never existed if it weren’t for people simply using them. In the words of a lexicographer (someone who updates the dictionary with new words), steal, reshape, blend, and shift words however you need. Steal words from other languages because, that is, after all, how we named Caramel (borrowed from the French language), and even reshaped how we use them. Take for example: “Let’s make this city green.” Green is now an understood word that is no longer only considered an adjective but also a noun.
Some of you may not know this but I am originally from Germany with a strong Polish heritage, so my vocabulary is quite unique. I am the one that will get sayings wrong or even make up my own words. “I need to wrap my feet around this,” “I will hold down the fork,” “Mouse code, Morse Code – it’s all the same.”
I am sure some of you are hysterically laughing right now and half of the time I am the entertainment for my office, but that is the beauty in having a dynamic language. Don’t stop the creativity when it comes to language or words. Be creative and pave new grounds.
The next time you hear somebody make up a new word or saying, encourage them and even join the party … you never know when somebody might jump on the band wagon and make your word an official Merriam-Webster word. My personal favorite for this week is the saying: “It’s like asking for mustard after you have eaten.”- My definition of that saying is that it basically means the train has already passed so why bother bringing something up. What will you come up with? Share with us your favorite new words .…