Nine out of ten scientists agree that words have been rather important in the evolution and propagation of the human race, their importance ranked just below math and low standards in the bedroom. I appreciate the various wonders and quirks of language more than the average person, seeing as how I spend each day banging my head against a keyboard until the output is good enough to meet the aforementioned low standards.
So it was interesting to learn about the recent additions to the Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO). You may have seen major news outlets lament, now that words like ‘twerk’ and ‘selfie’ have made it to the ODO, that civilisation is doomed to choke on its own vomit, which it will promptly instagram.
But they conveniently forgot to mention the difference between the Oxford Dictionaries Online, which focuses on current English and modern usage, and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is the more sacred heavyweight that the pre-internet generation is familiar with, and volumes of which are still found in many homes, languishing in a loveless marriage with the World Book series. In this age, relying on the hardbound giant is just a reminder that you need to get your prostate checked.
Now that that’s cleared up, let’s take a look at some of the words that made it to the list:
Twerk, v.: The tipping point for its inclusion came from Miley Cyrus’s recent twerking act at the Video Music Awards, wherein she shocked the world by not being 14 anymore.
(Also, you realise you’re ancient when you know Miley Cyrus as the daughter of the guy who sang ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, the 90s country hit for Americans who’d been dumped by their sisters.)
The ODO says that to twerk is to “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” This accounts for 93% of Bollywood’s profits, with the rest dependent on Rohit Shetty’s pot dealer. In more specific terms, twerking involves bending over and then furiously jerking your behind until you generate enough thrust to launch both cheeks into orbit.
FOMO, abbrev., n.: Fear of Missing Out: Defined as “the anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
Constantly checking your smartphone is the modern equivalent of absent-mindedly picking your nose in public, except that your boogers are way smarter than most people on social media. If you were to put away your phone for a bit, the only exciting moments you’d miss out would be people commenting on the cuteness of some newborn baby, even though it basically looks like a swollen thumb with eyes, and the online Pappu-Feku debate, which you can otherwise experience by getting strangers to take a dump inside your brain.
Omnishambles, n. (informal): A situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations. So, the UPA.
Phablet, n.: A smartphone that can also be used as a 3BHK. You gotta love the ads for these things, wherein a white person uses the phone to navigate, download recipes, make pie-charts, design skyscrapers, cure AIDS, crack cold fusion and make Maggi in two minutes.
Selfie, n. (informal): A photograph of oneself, usually taken against the backdrop of one’s crippling need for validation. I don’t mean to generalise, but all selfies are taken by women. Guys don’t take selfies because we’re too busy reacting to girls’ selfies with gems like these:
“Wow nyc clik yaar… lng time! lets ctch up smtym?..”
(Translation: Whoa! Should’ve been nicer to you in school when you were fat. Now do me.)
Girl crush, n. (informal): An intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by one woman or girl for another.
Call me a romantic, but I miss the time when this was known as ‘women making out with their girl friends on a party dare because wine is amazing’. You’d never see guys do that. Sure, we’ve got something called a ‘Man crush’, which is an Indian guy’s way of saying that he questioned his sexuality during several Sachin innings. But enough about Gavaskar’s commentary.
If we need to add words into the lexicon, I vote we bring back some archaic ones that have fallen into disuse. For example, why say ‘temper’ when you can say ‘pussyvan’ instead?And instead of addressing your girlfriend or wife as ‘sweetheart’, just use its olde equivalent, ‘wonder-wench’. It’ll make her so happy, she’ll twerk all over you.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 1st Sep 2013.)