What does the Oxford English Dictionary's acceptance of web slang say about this generation's communication skills?

The Oxford English Dictionary, venerated arbiter of our mother tongue since 1884, ♥s web lingo.


Those internet-inspired initialisms (“Oh my God,” “laughing out loud,” “too much information,” “in my humble opinion”) join the ubiquitous BFF (“best friend forever”) on this month’s OED online update. A total of 900 new words made the quarterly cut.

When the St. Peter of linguistics welcomes web slang through the pearly gates, it’s time to acknowledge that English has reached the cross-generational tipping point.

Those under 30 will dismiss it as urban myth, but long ago and not far away, people with reasonable intelligence and no prison record routinely expressed themselves in complete words and sentences.

Yes, Virginia, before the virtual universe made us virtually illiterate, communication revolved around nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. We had thoughts longer than a nanosecond. We wrote in paragraphs. We did not multi-task, whatever that was.

But as the speed of life cranked up to the speed of light, web-driven slang knocked uncondensed (real) words out of the fast lane. The changes came so quickly that OED— all 20 volumes and 150 pounds of it—launched an online version in 2000. Its most recent print delineation, published in 1989, was probably its last.

OED’s anointed new phrases are not lacking in fun value, mind you. Anyone who has visited Los Angeles or taken mind-altering drugs can understand why La-la land is an appropriate idiom.

OED tells us that Wag, short for “wives and girlfriends,” was first used in 2002 as a reference to an English soccer team’s significant others. I prefer to make it a toast: “To our wags; may they never meet.”

For more fun, there’s the one-size-fits-all smack talk (“boastful or insulting banter”), unless, of course, you’re addressing a heroin addict. And who can’t relate to dot-bomb for a failed internet company?

My personal favorite has to be  Muffin top, a description of the fleshy spare tire protruding above the waistband of your too-tight pants.

Since I’m not a big muffin fan, I nominate DDGW, or “Dunkin Donuts gone wild.””

IMHO, it rocks. Call me ASAP, OED. Let’s be BFF.