The Oxford Dictionary is adding new “techspeak” terms to its vocabulary

Graphic by Phil Waheed

Graphic by Phil Waheed

Techspeak, for those of us who are technically impaired, can be as mind-boggling as HTML formatting. Thankfully, Oxford Dictionaries Online is here to help. The site has recently added 200 new words to spice up our vocabulary, with many of them being associated with the world wide interweb (n. the Internet).

Since 1998, the Oxford University Press has published three editions of an English language dictionary, aptly titled The New Oxford Dictionary of English. The researchers start from scratch with every new edition, as the dictionary is intended to reflect the current state of the English language—not simply an updated one. The latest edition was published in 2010, but Oxford Dictionaries Online frequently updates their website with new entries to keep it contemporary.

The emergence of social networking has taken techspeak to new heights. Ever defriended (v. to remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site) an ex after a bitter breakup? Or arranged a tweetup (n. a meeting or other gathering organized by means of posts on the social networking service Twitter) at Starbucks? Mark Zuckerberg has not only turned procrastination into an art form, it seems he has also infiltrated our verbal communication.

Beyond the confines of your Facebook home page lies a vast and chaotic network of other websites. Perhaps upon the purchase of your latest PC you installed freemium (n. business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for) malware to protect your files. Or maybe you’re a fan of microblogging (n. the posting of very short entries or updates on a blog) and read up on Perez Hilton from time to time.

Although it’s mainly self-proclaimed geeks who label these words, Oxford legitimizes them by slapping on official definitions and putting them into print.

Has techspeak taken over our society to such an extent that grade five students throughout the country are using ‘becuz’ and ‘rofl’ in their book reports? Perhaps — but outside the world of academia, techspeak is widely accepted. It isn’t deteriorating our vocabulary, it’s enhancing it. The English language is constantly evolving. The addition of terms enriches our understanding of new phenomenons encountered on the Internet. And that is nothing to ‘lawlz’ about.


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