What you need to know:
- 300 new words have been added to online dictionary dictionary.com.
- Here are some words and what they mean
- What do UAE residents think about these new words?
Dubai: It’s official, the internet is altering the English language beyond recognition. JSYK, 300 words are being added to dictionary.com this year. And, yes, JSYK (“just so you know”) is one of them.
According to a blog on Dictionary.com, one of the world’s top online dictionaries: “...these additions include some recent internet slang abbreviations, that reflect how technology is influencing modern life — and modern communication.”
Such as that feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities, without worrying over the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing or JOMO (“Joy of missing out”). It is the the antonym of FOMO (“Fear of missing out”).
But, other than having these seemingly incomprehensible abbreviations, there’s some great news, too. Many of the added words focus on concepts of inclusivity and empowered identity, especially cultural terms that have gained traction in recent years.
For instance, the word Afrofuturism, popularised by the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther, is an addition. It refers to a cultural movement, as expressed through art, cinema, literature, music, and fashion, “that uses the frame of science fiction and fantasy to reimagine the history of the African diaspora and to invoke a vision of a technically advanced and generally hopeful future in which black people thrive.”
Similarly, words in which the letter x is being popularly used, to denote gender fluidity, like Womxn (instead of woman), Latinx (used in place of the masculine form Latino, the feminine form Latina) and Chicanx (specifically describing Mexican Americans) have also been included.
Colourism, is another interesting inclusion. It means “differential treatment based on skin colour, especially favouritism toward those with a lighter skin tone and mistreatment or exclusion of those with a darker skin tone, typically among those of the same racial group or ethnicity”.
Here are some new additions that you have probably used or at least heard of:
1. Dad jokes
A corny and generally unfunny joke reminiscent of the types of remarks made by middle-aged or elderly fathers to children.
2. Brain fart
A brief mental lapse, especially an instance of forgetfulness or confusion.
3. Deep dive
A thorough or comprehensive analysis of a subject of issue.
4. Toxic masculinity
Gaining popularity after the popular #MeToo social media movement, this phrase is a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health.
5. Safe Space
A place that provides a physically and emotionally safe environment for a person or group of people, especially a place where people can freely express themselves without discomfort, fear of prejudice or negative judgment.
6. Media literacy
Victim of fake news? Media literacy is the ability or skills to critically analyse information for accuracy, credibility, or evidence of bias. This includes content created and shared on various media, including radio and television, the internet, and social media.
7. Screen time
You can’t avoid screens anymore. Screen time defines the amount of time a person spends watching or interacting on the screen of a computer, phone, TV, gaming console and other screens.
8. Male gaze
“The assumption in visual and creative arts that the default or desired audience consists of heterosexual males, and inclusion of women in narrative or art should seek to please this audience with the objectification or sexualisation of these depicted women.”
Slang term for a person who collects and trades sneakers as a hobby, and who typically is knowledgeable about the history of sneakers.
10. Womp womp
“Used to dismiss or to mock a failure, loss, or the like. First recorded in 2005–10, this slang interjection and verb imitates the sound made by a trombone to indicate a wrong answer or other minor humiliation, used on TV game shows and in movies.”
11. Thirst trap
It’s internet slang and refers to a “social media post, especially a selfie or other photo, intended to elicit, appreciation of one’s attractiveness, or other positive feedback”.
A word used to indicate disappointment, resignation, or acceptance, usually “at the beginning of an utterance”.
New words, new lingo, new generation? UAE youth react
When I used the word ‘brain fart’ while talking to my mother, today, not only did I get lectured for my “deteriorating vocabulary”, but I was also told that my choice of words was “silly”.
In my defence, “brain fart”, indeed, is a dictionary phrase, and though silly, it is true.
Three hundred new words have been added to the dictionary. We spoke to UAE youngsters to find out if they are familiar with the new words and whether they have been incorporated in their everyday usage.
Some of the words mentioned in the list are easy to pick up and use in conversation. Others, may take some time to get used to.
Dubai resident Aroushi Malhotra is aware of the new words that have been introduced and has used them on occasion. She said: “I would prefer using abbreviations that stem from millennial lingo like JOMO and JSYK when conversing with friends of similar ages compared to someone aged 40 and above.”
“I would prefer using abbreviations that stem from millennial lingo like JOMO and JSYK when conversing with friends of similar ages compared to someone aged 40 and above.”
However, she believes that it is great to see people of all ages “keeping up with the latest millennial lingo.”
Echoing the same idea, Egyption national Farah Abdou has heard of the new slang but has not got around to incorporating them in her vocabulary.
She told Gulf News: “I will only consider using the new words if they get picked up by everyone. Otherwise, there are new terms being invented every day, it doesn’t mean we should keep using them.”
Sign of the times
Whether the words are being used or gain popularity, it is a sign of how rapid growth in technology is affecting the way people talk.
For 23-year-old analyst, Sudeep Devpura, the introduction of new words is proof of how fast the world is evolving and adapting. He said: “It just a sign of the times we live in, as we evolve so do the tools we use to communicate. If cell phones can get upgraded with better features, then speech is also a tool that should be evolving.”
“It just a sign of the times we live in, as we evolve so do the tools we use to communicate. If cell phones can get upgraded with better features, then speech is also a tool that should be evolving.”
In the list provided by the online dictionary, many words like white guilt, whitelash and colourism have also been added, that have certain socio-political connotations to them. According to Malhotra, these words “highlight the realities that people of different cultures, races and groups have faced and are still facing”.
“I believe it is a necessity for people of all ages to be educated about the deep meanings and historical and current significance attached to these words. Awareness and acknowledgement of such words, even if one doesn’t prefer to use them, it is a victory in itself as opposed to blind ignorance and cultural unawareness.”
According to Devpura, these additions discuss a movement and a change in the opinions people have. He said: “As more communities and more people find that their voice has power, they will use it to reflect their stories and choices.”
UAE national Fatima Al Hammadi, agreed that the words reflect the social issues taking place in the world today, but said they draw attention to the “historical aspect of the words and the ongoing epidemic of ignorance that is still practiced, but in different ways.”
The influence of pop culture, technology and texting have both directly and indirectly had an effect on language. If we undermined the impact in the past, we have to rethink the exposure it has.
Fatima said: “Pop culture and technology has a continuous influence on language. The scale in which ‘influence’ is measured is on how fast things spread.”
“Pop culture and technology has a continuous influence on language. The scale in which ‘influence’ is measured is on how fast things spread.”
Malhotra added that technology has completely changed the way we speak and interact, and this is constant. She said: “I remember when I was a teenager, I used to chat with friends through Windows Live Messenger, and [other application because at that time] they represented the most popular platforms. Compared with today’s teens, we had almost a completely different lexicon!”
Since language is changing, are people worried about the standard of language and will it affect the future generations?
Abdou is quite anxious about it.
She said: “The standard of language just becomes even complicated with the addition of these new words. This is because many don’t even know the current words and phrases. There was a phase in pop culture where terms like gtg (got to go), yolo (you only live once) were used. But I feel like they have faded away.”
However, Fatima is not worried with language not being standardised. “The standardisation of language seems to be reducing, and that does not necessarily impose a threat towards a standardised language; however, it goes to demonstrate the scale of a language’s flexibility. I like to think of language as a sculpture.”
According to Malhotra the standard of language is increasing and will continue to increase, change and evolve, as we evolve. “I hope that people worldwide are educated and aware of the significance of these new additions. This awareness and education may inspire people to work towards improving the negative reality of many, by fostering inclusion and creating a more diverse and fair society.”