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Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the every-word-on-the-bus dept.
arcticstoat writes "A few net-speak acronyms such as LOL and OMG were entered to the Oxford English Dictionary last month, but could we ever see l33t-speak (complete with numbers) or ROFLcopters in the OED? In this interview with OED principal editor Graeme Diamond, he reveals the selection criteria for new words and discusses the potential for words such as 'l33t' to get into the dictionary. 'L33t is obviously a respelling and a contraction [of elite],' says Diamond, 'so it would be a separate entry, and yes it is familiar to me, so I think it's something we would consider for inclusion.'"
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Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary

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  • by Tolkien (664315) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:33AM (#35744586) Journal
    A series of letters containing numbers doesn't make it a word. "Leet".. retarded but okay. L33t? Wtf is wrong with these people?
  • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:59AM (#35744932)

    If something often appears in written texts, the OED should list it. The idea is that someone encountering an unfamiliar word should be able to use the OED to find what it it means. The OED differs from some other dictionaries in this matter: it is descriptive, not prescriptive. If a word is or was used often enough with a definable meaning in the written corpus, the OED intends to list it.

  • Re:Jesus. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Thursday April 07, 2011 @11:02AM (#35744964)

    Why do you not take the OED seriously? Do you believe it lists words not in use, or that it gives incorrect definitions.

    One thing it does not do, which you may be expecting, is make any judgement about /proper/ usage. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. If you are expecting guidance as to good usage, look elsewhere. But take the OED as a source of actual, as opposed to good, usage.

  • Re:Absurd. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinchris (1020961) <penguinchris.gmail@com> on Thursday April 07, 2011 @11:16AM (#35745188) Homepage

    Two things - first, look at urbandictionary.com. Yes, you can find essentially any slang term there if you already heard it - but you'll get hundreds of alternate definitions, and then there are thousands of terms people have added that are not actually widely used slang. If you were unfamiliar with English slang and tried to use that source, you'd have major problems. That's not to say that a better implementation isn't possible (and there are printed slang dictionaries already that are carefully edited), it just illustrates many of the problems in undertaking such a task.

    Second, the OED apparently wishes to be a source of information about how the language is actually used - it updates things as meanings change over time. So you can read something written in not-necessarily-the-Queen's-English, probably online, and look up new words and slang and understand them. Other dictionaries don't do this as aggressively. The OED contains *many* slang terms, but only adds them once they've gained demonstrable widespread cultural impact. Whether or not "leet" or "l33t" qualifies is a separate debate, but you have to understand what the OED is trying to do in order to say whether or not such slang should be included at all, and they've already decided that it should be.

    I don't generally use much slang, nor do I often consult a dictionary, but I agree that widespread slang belongs in a dictionary of actual English usage and in other respects the OED is certainly a fine dictionary as far as I can tell.

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