Folium: 35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary via Mentalfloss

Folium: 35 New Words Added to the Dictionary in 2012 via Mentalfloss

Folium: 35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary via Mentalfloss

Folium: 35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary via Mentalfloss

English seems to be a rather hot-button topic in the academic world lately, we just published a new article a few days ago about the rapid evolution of English over the past 500 years. Now, here it is in action today!

English is an incredible language, able to expand and adapt at a breakneck pace. Every year, without fail, various news organizations report on the “new” words that have been added into the English language. But have you ever given thought to who makes these kinds of decisions? Just who decides what is really “English” and what isn’t?

Nobody does, and yet everybody does at the same time… Thus making English one of the great academic marvels of the world. It’s organized chaos!

We permit organizations like Webster’s Dictionary, and the Oxford English Dictionary to choose for us. If it’s in the book, it’s got to be English… right? Mentalfloss’ article gives us an example of the power of the OED, an academic standard around the world.

The Oxford Dictionary Online is a warehouse of over 600,000 words. Despite this large arsenal, we continue to coin, clip, and blend new words into existence, and the Oxford folks pump some of these new modern words into their dictionaries. Here are some more recent additions with their official definitions. – Mentalfloss

The "Real Academia" in Madrid via Wikimedia Commons

The “Real Academia” in Madrid via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a stark contrast to the current system. Spain has had a government office dedicated to the preservation and evolution of the Spanish language for hundreds of years. The Royal Academy, “Real Academia”, includes the most celebrated and gifted linguists in Spanish history. They decide what is Spanish and what is not, and because of this body the basic rules of Spanish grammar have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

France has a similar institution called “La Francophonie”, with the same composition and purpose.

"Texting" via Wikimedia Commons

“Texting” via Wikimedia Commons

English has… well… a few benchmarks, but mostly we follow a combination of textbook publishers, dictionary makers, and Google. Even the Modern Language Association (ever cited something in MLA format?) tends to avoid the sticky world of English grammar.

So, after all of this, who creates these new modern words, and then decides whether or not they stick?

We do! Popular culture, emerging technologies, “borrowing” from foreign lands, and a myriad of other factors give us the English we know and love today. So today we induct these new words into the anglophone lexicon. Rejoice in the chaos that is the English language!