Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Evolution of Language: Thanks to Social Media

We live in a time of change and this is even apparent in the way the English language has evolved in the last few years.

Thanks to the use of social media, such as texting, the Internet and various sites, especially Twitter, the English language has taken a life of its own.

The power of pop culture

Pop culture has certainly changed the verbal landscape, with slang words in conversation or in songs that have become more mainstream. We have abbreviated words like LOL (laugh out loud) or LMAO (laughing my ass off) that have become acceptable not only in texting but also emails and even in conversations.

Television has also helped disseminate the use of many words and phrases that were unheard of in the last few decades. People now have come up with new words to describe how they feel, what they do and things they want.

The more extensive or popular the use of new words, the more acceptable they become. This is even if it isn’t a real word to begin with, but something that has been unusually conjugated or simply invented.

New dictionary entries

Some words have become so popular that they have made their way to some English language dictionaries.

The Collins English Dictionary now has entries for words such as Cleggmania, bigotgate and fauxmance. There is also anime, which is a Japanese style of animation.

In 2008, the word bootylicious immortalized itself into the annals of the English language when it was placed in the Oxford English Dictionary and defined as “sexually attractive, sexy or shapely.” Although Destiny’s Child cannot be credited with concocting the word, the girl group led by Beyonce certainly became instrumental in popularizing it through their massive hit song with the same name.

There are some words that have found their way into the mainstream, thanks to pop culture and social media. As long as people continue to use these words, they will become more and more ingrained in the language, giving birth to new words that didn’t exist before.

Messages via texts

Texting is the act of sending a text message to someone. Thanks to cellular phones and other mobile devices, the new word texting has been coined since people not only use their mobile phones to make calls, but to send each other text messages. In fact, when sending sexy messages and pictures, that would be sexting.

To animate messages when texting, some opt to use emoticons. Happy, angry, sad, frustrated, or coy, there is an emoticon for many expressions and emotions. These are facial expression representations that are created using a combination of characters on the keyboard. For example, a colon, dash and closed parenthesis together form a smile.

Referring to people

Many people exchange text messages with their bff. Paris Hilton and her best friend Nicole Richie are probably the ones who popularized this word, which is an acroynm for “best friends forever.”

In contrast, there is frenemy or frienemy. This is a combination of the words friend and enemy, to refer to a person who is considered an enemy or adversary but who tries to act like a friend. While this word dates back to as early as 1953, the word frenemy has gained ground only in the last few years.  Frenemies can be found anywhere, such as in the workplace, where there is stiff competition for top positions.

In describing men, there is metrosexual, which refers to a man who spends a lot of time or is very fastidious with his appearance. There is also kidult, which is a grown man who is still interested in things that are supposed to be geared for children, especially games and TV shows.

A new word that will probably become popular is trampire. As a result of the public’s fascination with celebrities, the tabloid Daily News has started calling a certain female celebrity who was caught cheating on her highly popular celebrity boyfriend as a trampire.

Top social networking site Twitter has contributed massively to the English language. Tweets aren’t just for birds and other avian creatures anymore. New words are evolving and becoming more and more familiar thanks to the millions of people who tweet or post messages or updates every day. A tweet is a message posted on the popular website that comprises 140 characters or less.

In the world of Twitter, a tweetheart is a special someone. This is the opposite of a frenemy. Social movements are also common in social networking sites. When someone on the microblogging site tries to get support for any particular cause or have a petition for something that is called twitition.

New words on food

When it comes to eating and cooking, new words have also emerged to refer to old ingredients and new dining experiences. Evoo is one old ingredient that has been given a new spin. This is how celebrity cook Rachel Ray refers to extra virgin olive oil. It is, after all, much simpler to refer to this staple ingredient by its acronym instead of having to say all four words every time it is used in a dish.

Supersize is a word that found its way in the 2006 version of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition. It means to increase something in size, especially to upside a drink or fries when ordering in a fast food restaurant.

For those who don’t want to eat genetically modified food, then avoid frankenfood.

New Expressions

People don’t seem to be quite content with the existing adjectives in the English language. Social blogger Perez Hilton is popularizing the word amazeballs, which basically means super or really amazing.

The popularity of commercials can still be seen in how some slogans and catchphrases have taken off. Simples is now a popular catchphrase that was popularized by a television commercial that is said by a meerkat, of all things. It has achieved the same popularity as “Yo quiero Taco Bell” in the 1990s.

These changes in language only show how language is alive and constantly evolving. With evolution of technology, the English language itself will also change. 


Beverly P. Clay said...

Another word that will likely get famous is trampire. As a consequence of people in general's interest with superstars, the tabloid Daily News has begun calling a certain female big name who was discovered undermining her very well known VIP beau as a trampire.

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