Well, slap my rump with a lexicon of Latin roots and call me Samuel Johnson. I anticipate tomorrow with the sort of frenzy normally reserved for a new Alanis Morissette recording. This is, of course, to say not much frenzy at all. For, tomorrow is the day that the Collins Australian Dictionary will be available in its newest edition.
As fans of ornate speech and cryptic crosswords will affirm, one needn’t really bother with anything other than the Oxford. This remains the most complete and readable reference for English and despite its annual concessions to fleeting glossomania like bootylicious and milkshake, it does not cart a lot of unnecessary Junk Inside Its Trunk.
Today, however, Collins is making every effort to hawk its junk. And what’s it gonna do with all that junk?
Like all the shabbier cyclopaedic cousins of the Oxford, Collins must display its point of definitive difference. So, this multiplatform book has, of course, a myspace page (will someone please tell them that the fashionable interwebs kids can all be found at facebook these days?) and is accessible via one’s mobile telephone. This sh-t, indeed, be wack.
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Further, it has introduced a number of new words.
If one has an Oxford and some younger associates, the shifting ocean of contemporary language is quite navigable. Nonetheless, the lexicographers at Collins have dug up some putatively useful new phrases.
Among these is “hump day”. One should not infer from this any society with aforementioned booty or shake. Apparently, it means Wednesday. As anyone who has enjoyed a No Repeat Workday, featuring the greatest from Jon Bon Jovi’s oeuvre, might already know.
A number of other passably bijou terms have been offered to press for advance discussion. However, you may read about these and the crazy youngsters who employ them in newspapers. Or, if the viral genius of modern dictionary marketing is in full flare, you may receive a forwarded email describing usage for “lactivist.” (Don’t ask.) So, I shan’t discuss them in this forum.
However, one neologism does merit further investigation for the manner in which it mocks the dictionary that contains it.
“Me-media” is, apparently, a term describing user generated content. That is, your virtual garden variety flickr, facebook, eBay reflecto-porn (don’t ask) et al. Except, of course, none of the actual diarists, dwarf stars and deviants who make UGC use it.
Isn’t it ironic, as Alanis might have asked if she’d actually bothered to consult her Oxford Concise before writing that awful song?
As au courant and tragically me-media as Collins might deem itself to be, this work does naught but fossilise common parlance. I.e. Such efforts are as useful and convincingly hip as Christians using “street” language.
Have you heard the shizzle about the Lamb of God. It’s totally dope. If the Christ-ster had been around today, he would totally have had so many facebook friends. Etc etc
This is the problem with contemporary lexicography. On the one hand, it is essential that there is a record to describe the era and its language. On the other, the vocabulary of the interwebs is informed utterly by disposability.
To chronicle this rubbish is, in fact, to miss the point of its temporary emergence.