Saturday, August 7, 2010

They Were Rejected For A Reason


When I saw the title of a certain article over there at AOL News, I knew how the whole thing was going to turn out for me. The title was "Unused but Useful: Oxford English Dictionary's Reject List". I enjoy words. I enjoy reading about words. I do not enjoy people making up words and expecting everyone to start using them all the time as if they had just invented the word "dog" or something to that effect. Articles about made up words usually end up annoying me. And this one did just that. Annoyed the crap out of me.

The basis for the article is something that I think we could all surmise. (And when I say "all" I mean everyone who isn't a mouth breathing, paste eating, moron.) The Oxford English Dictionary rejects quite a few words every year that are submitted to them. And God bless 'em for it. Lord only knows what we'd be subjected to if there wasn't some sort of discretion. (Not to mention common sense and the ability to just say, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. No way is it going in this dictionary.")

The author of the article, a one very competent and capable Theunis Bates, starts off by writing "Ever engaged a freegan in nonversation, or does the very idea make you want to precuperate? If you haven't a clue what we're talking about, don't worry, you're probably not xenolexic." See, I've heard of those "words" and just reading that almost made me cringe. But he goes on to say that if you haven't heard of some of those words that is because they are "...non words": Words that have allegedly been submitted to the Oxford English Dictionary...but rejected on the grounds that too few people currently use them." That's what I like. Rejection based on infrequency. Seems like a reasonable principle to have in place at all times. (For example, I reject talking to many people due to the infrequency of the number of times that they have anything of substance to say to me. Thus, I talk to very few people and I am much happier because of it. Therefore, I can conclude that such a system works very well.)

Theunis (that's kind of a cool name) goes on to tell us that all of the "...failed words are hidden away in a secret vault at Oxford". Oh, awesome! He also goes on to tell us that access to said vault by outsiders is not going to happen. Hmmm. Not so awesome. But a one 22-year old Luke Ngakane, through "...his own research and logophile contacts...quickly built up a pamphlet's worth of non words." Said pamphlet consists of 39 words. It seems to be Luke's goal to "...get as many of these unique words back into circulation." Based on the selection of words that Luke chose, I can only hope that the re-circulation of those words does not happen. Ever. They are horrible words. There is a reason that they were rejected in the first place! A lot of them use that cutesy little trick of changing one letter so that the new word simply sounds like the old word, only has a whole new meaning based upon the change of the letter. You know, like "staycation" (which is just ridiculous) and "manscaping" (which I really don't want to think about).

Let's look at some of the choices, shall we? If you're interested in Luke's entire list, it can be found in Theunis's article via the link that I provided earlier in this post.

Accordionated: Being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time. Clearly, this is a play on the word "coordinated", only with the word "accordion" incorporated into it to illustrate the folding of a map. With GPS and Google Maps and all of that these days, this word seems outdated at best.

Espacular: Something especially spectacular. So, something that is especially spectacular gets half of the word "spectacular" removed from it so that is sounds like some sort of Spanish spackle?

Freegan: Someone who rejects consumerism, usually by eating discarded food. Um, I already have a word for this sort of person. In fact, I have several. I tend to alternate between "bum", "hobo" and "Bob, the homeless guy who lives behind the bank".

Fumb: Your large toe. Is it a "fumb" instead of a "thumb" because it's on our foot and "foot" starts with an "F"? That's F-ing ridiculous. If that were logical, then wouldn't the thumb simply be called the "humb" because it's on our hand and "hand" starts with an "H"? Or would we just call the whole thing stupid because that's how I'm starting to feel by trying to comprehend all of this?

Nudenda: An unhidden agenda. We already have a word for this, too. It's called a "plan". A PLAN. Say it with me. A PLAN. Good Lord...

Precuperate: To prepare for the possibility of being ill. That's called a hypochondriac. Stop making up words.

Sprog: To go faster then a jog but slower then a sprint. Sooooo....run?

Wikism: A piece of information that claims to be true but is wildly inaccurate. Also known as a "lie" or "bulls**t". Your choice.

If I thought that this little movement had any legs, I'd be ready to stab my eyes out (and probably my ears, too, just for good measure). But I doubt it's going anywhere. I wonder if Luke has found a word for that yet?

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