July 11, 2007

What Would Noah Do?

No, not the Biblical figure. Noah Webster, I mean. As someone who once lived less than two miles from the house that bears his name in West Hartford, CT, I've often considered how he would view our current treatment of his dictionary.

The folks at Merriam-Webster keep adding new entries every year. Language evolves and English in particular is subject to a continual expansion of vocabulary. But there's a particular addition this year that has me scratching my head: Ginormous.

Is this amalgam of Gigantic and Enormous really widespread enough to warrant inclusion in a dictionary? How about Fugly, for that matter? Bootylicious, perhaps? Are they really words or merely colorful malapropisms used by limited segments of the population?

Robbo, you're the English major. Your thoughts? Anyone else?

Yes, I do think about things like this.

Yips! from Robbo: I confess that I happen to be quite fond of the word "ginormous" and have taken to using it myself of late. At the same time, it is pure slang, not the Queen's English, and therefore has no place in the dictionary. Slang is the fast food of language and should be treated as such: indulged in on appropriate occassion but never considered part of a formal cuisine.

So says I, anyway.

YIPS from Steve-O: The only thing I have to say to this is that it gives me great hope that "Strategery" will one day make it.

Posted by Gary at July 11, 2007 09:46 AM | TrackBack

It's only officially a word when it is in the OED.

So until then, drink...

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at July 11, 2007 09:32 AM

I didn't know you were a one-time West Hartford resident. I am fortunate enough to pay taxes here now.

My suggestion would be to include the Washington Post annual word creation contest winners while they're at it. The rules, as I understand them, ask folks to take any word from teh dictionary and add, subtract, or change one letter to create a new word.


Bozone (n): The substance surrounding stupid people that stop bright ideas from penetrating.

Cashtration (n): THe act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinate period.

Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease.

Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an a**hole.

The list goes on...

Posted by: tdp at July 11, 2007 11:30 AM

Ah yes, for four years I lived not far from exit 41 off I-84. In Elmwood, the...ahem...more affordable section of town you might say.

How I miss that Mongolian Wok.

Posted by: Gary at July 11, 2007 11:52 AM