Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is that a word?

The most wonderful thing about the English language is it's constantly evolving. Words that didn't exist even 5 years ago are now official (as in, found in Webster's).

Take for example, EVOO. Rachael Ray is credited with creating this word. For those readers who aren't "foodies", EVOO is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There are actual criteria for what slang words eventually become real words.

According to Merriam-Webster Online, a word gets into the dictionary by tracking the usage of a word.

"To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it's used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them."

"Change and variation are as natural in language as they are in other areas of human life and Merriam-Webster reference works must reflect that fact. By relying on citational evidence, we hope to keep our publications grounded in the details of current usage so they can calmly and dispassionately offer information about modern English."

I get my love of words from my dad. He is constantly blending words together to create entirely new meanings. He created the word "splitamaulitis" about 20 years ago, after a weekend of splitting cord wood for the winter. Splitting-maul-itis. He didn't care whether anyone else ever used it, he was just tickled to have made it up. The following Autumn, he heard a DJ on the radio use the word. Dad had a huge grin on his face as he told us all about it.

So, have fun with words. Combine some to convey exactly what you mean. Make some up. If you use them in your everyday conversations, they may end up in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary someday.

No comments: