The Washington Post

Stop it, Oxford English Dictionary. OMG? LOL? Heart? No!

Quit it!

The Oxford English Dictionary is just embarrassing at this point.

Today we learned that it’s added “heart” as a verb, as in “I ♥ NYC,” which pains me to type, “LOL,” “FYI,” and “OMG.” Also “dotbomb” and “ego-surfing,” which, frankly, I have never heard anyone use. It’s like the depressing period when your aunts and uncles went around saying “phat.”

Actually, there is no analogy that fully conveys how terrible this is. It’s like a grandmother who insists on using slang, but worse. It’s like a grandmother wearing glittery makeup and jeggings. It’s like Yoda trying to sext you. It’s like your great-uncle Pete going to see “Never Say Never 3D,” twice. If the OED weren’t a dictionary, I would be worried that it was a pedophile, given that it spends all its time hanging around people hundreds of years younger trying to seem cool. It’s less embarrassing for the person than it is for everyone around him, who remembers what he used to be like.

I’m all for staying hip and relevant. That’s why I spend my lunch hour lurking outside middle schools trying to catch wind of the slang today’s kids are using, and why I have dedicated the greater part of the past year to learning as much as I can about Justin Bieber, because He Might Be The Future Of Something. But this is because I am still young and have no dignity to speak of.

The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, is supposed to have dignity. It is supposed to enshrine the words that actually mean things. Just because people are using these words doesn’t mean that they deserve to be in the dictionary. OMG? Heart? W(in)T(he)F(uture), OED?

I love words. I was one of those kids who used to list “vocabulary” as “favorite personal quality” instead of, say “legs” or “ability to open doors with minimal incident.” I liked to tell people that I was upstairs lucubrating and could not be disturbed.

So I find this physically painful. Whoever says words can’t hurt you has never seen me after the OED has announced another horrible mutilation of language that it’s just added so it can seem “hip.”

Listen, Oxford English Dictionary. You are the Oxford English Dictionary. Do you know what that means? That means that you are never, ever going to be invited to the hip afterparties, no matter what you do or how many asinine “initialisms” you say are words. You are not going to get to hang with Miley. You are a dictionary, and you are supposed to be a watchdog of language, not the one handing ID’s to every silly neologism so they can slip past the bouncers. Stop trying to be cool and do your job.

Next year, I want the announcement to read, “The Oxford English Dictionary has decided that WTF, O RLY, and BAMF are NOT in the dictionary.” Even that won’t get your dignity back. But it’ll be a start.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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