Saturday, September 22, 2007

Good-bye, good bye, goodbye, hyphen

LONDON: The latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has donned a new colour. SOED's editor Angus Stevenson explains the greening of his dictionary as a sign of the times.

"Suddenly people have become much more concerned about climate change," he says. "It's trendy to be green, and that has made the vocabulary of green issues much more widespread."

But its bid to omit the hyphen has invited a storm of criticism from appalled purists, seeking to launch a last-ditch defence of the hyphen, Stevenson is defensive but doughty.

"We only reflect what people in general are reading. We have been tracking this for some time and we've been finding the hyphen is used less and less. It will probably upset a few people but the point I would make is that we are only reflecting widespread everyday use. We are not saying it should be dropped completely."

So, good-bye, good bye, goodbye, hyphen.

By Emma Pomfret
WHETHER you're bootylicious or a muppet is strictly open to debate. But the use of such terms has become a phenomenon that lexicographers at the New Oxford Dictionary of English have been meticulously tracking for many years.

Published yesterday, the second edition of The Oxford Dictionary of English is considered to be the foremost single-volume authority on the English language.

Almost 3,000 words have entered the dictionary. Apostrophes are moving and shaking and the hyphen may well have had its day.

For example, e-mails have become emails and we are now online not on-line. A central part of the work undertaken by Oxford Dictionaries is to monitor all varieties of English from that used in formal, business, or scientific contexts to slang and informal usage.

Those that have passed the test include cyberslacker, fatoush, blamestorming, SARS, cantopop, bupkis, noughties, muggle, and robata. And familiar words we've used for years are changing.

You can guilt someone, or version something, while groom has taken on a more sinister meaning. The research also confirms that the Americanisation of English continues, with terms such as nerd, geek, bad hair day, and 24/7 as common here as they are in the US.

The world of television has given us bada bing courtesy of the US TV show The Sopranos, lovely jubbly from Only Fools and Horses, reality TV, and muppet meaning an incompetent or foolish person. Entertainment is now full of bootylicious, popstrels, and turntablists, who are da bomb, meaning the best. In science and technology, the fast-moving field of genetics has given us some colourful new terms: it's a world of pathogenicity islands, shotgun cloning and terminator genes.

Meanwhile, the web has become a place of hacktivists, shovelware and people who egosurf.

So, if you want to know what will happen if you have a 'Brazilian' at your local beauty salon, who the original 'Foo Fighters' were, what the 'Duckworth Lewis' method is, whether it is 'web site' or 'website', a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English is a 'must-have'.

Ra-ma-ra-ma- -Ding-dong-, England-- (IP)-- 16,000 - hyphens -have -disappeared -from -the -Oxford -English-dictionary- and- London- Yard- is- on- the -look -out -for - the- maniac -who -stole -them. He- said- it- will-be- difficult- to-manage- all- of -those -hyphens.

Chief -Inspector -Povenmire -Finootch -says -a -sure -fire-way- to-find -the -hyphen -stealing -culprit -is -to simply- look- for- someone- using- an-excessive -number-of-hyphens- on- the- innernet- (sic) -as -he -so -cleverly -puts-it.

Inspector- Finootch- says- that- there- is- a- very- large-cash- reward- out- for- information- leading- to- the-arrest- and- conviction- of- the- -hyphen -thief. He- went- as- far- as- to- say- that- if- the- thief- would-turn- himself- in- that- the- thief- himself- could- cash-in- on- the- reward- which- he- says- is- in- the- six-figures - category.

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