Saturday, October 3, 2015

There's No English in The Oxford English Dictionary

When my generation was growing up and we had trouble understanding the meaning of a word, we reached for the revered book – The English Oxford Dictionary, just like Chef opens The Cook Book when he needs to know how to make a flambé and Christian takes to the Bible for a better understanding of religion while, Fashionista consults Vogue magazine for the latest fashion trends.

The English Oxford Dictionary is such a powerful tool, that coming to think of it, I have never heard anybody question or grumble about the interpretation of a given word – whatever definition that’s given, it’s taken as gospel. Unlike Christian or Islamic Scholar who always question the Bible and Koran, Chef doubting the ingredients listed in The Cook Book or Fashionista disagreeing with Vogue on the definition of a short skirt.

Every language has an element of slang and in the English language, slang is becoming so main stream that of the 1,000+ words that have been added to the dictionary this year, a good majority of them are slang words or phrases.  

However, Boffin at The Oxford English Dictionary is adamant that adding slang words did not represent a dumbing down of English, but showed 'creative' use of language. He said: “There have always been new slang words and we are aware of them because of the ways in which we consume and live our lives.”

Check out these slang words which have now been included in the dictionary.

Awesomesauce: Extremely good.

Bants: Playfully teasing remarks exchanged with another person.

Beer o’clock: An appropriate time of day to start drinking beer.

Brain Fart: Temporary mental failure to reason correctly.

Fatberg: A large mass of solid waste consisting of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets.

Fat-shame: Someone judged to be fat or overweight.

Manspreading: The practice where a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat.

Pocket dial: To inadvertently call (someone) on a cell phone in one’s pocket, as a result of pressure being accidentally applied to a button on the phone

Rage-quit: To angrily abandon an activity that has become frustrating, especially the playing of a video game.

Rando: A person who you don’t know, especially one regarded as odd and suspicious.

While those are words used on the international arena and have been added into The English Oxford Dictionary, we in Uganda also have our words and phrases that Boffin, might want to make a special dispensation and include them next year. These are our words and how we interpret and use them. 

Extend: Come closer – “TB, extend next to me.”

I’m as if: Undecided – “TB, as if I’m not sure if I’m hungry or not.”

Pilot: Person driving the car or van – “TB, tell the pilot to drop me at the stage.”

Give a push: To see off a guest – “People, let’s give TB a push to the road.”

Balance: Coins or low denomination 1k and 2k notes: – “TB, do you have balance for groundnuts?”

Offering: Studying a degree course – “TB, I am offering computers at Nakawa.”

Outside countries: Going abroad to countries outside Africa.

I am sick: A female in her menstrual cycle – “Not tonight TB, I am sick.”

Comedy: A person who is funny – “TB, your funny and full of comedy.”

My bad: Done something wrong – “I knocked Boda Man in Wandegeya. My bad.”

In years to come, we’ll find the dictionary no longer contains English or gives us a meaning to real English words such as dilatory (wasting time) or inchoate (imperfectly formed). Instead, it will be full of explanations to slang words like, Silo (Club Silk) orcoin slot (intergluteal cleft - the groove between the buttocks) - or Timo (Timothy).    

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rando, I love this week’s bants.
    What’s brilliant about the Oxford English dictionary – and the language of English itself - is that it’s live. The language of Latin survived hundreds of years after the Roman Empire collapsed. It was widely spoken across Europe. The academics took control and gave it so many rules, that it died a death. The common man was alienated from it.
    There must be plenty of academics who throw their hands up in the air in horror at the thought of concepts like fatberg getting into the dictionary and the ‘dumbing down’ of English but that’s just snobbery. I feel very lucky that my mother tongue has been taken on (adapted / abused?) by so many people the world over, giving me easy access to so many different cultures. Of course I can’t understand their English at times! Nor can they understand mine; I speak the Queen’s English ‘as she is spoken’ – almost irrelevant now in 21st-century.
    Have you read Bernard Sabiiti’s Uglish dictionary? It’s awesomesauce!


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