Drat! Spiffing old words dying out as text speak takes over the English language
CRIPES, you could be talking balderdash and a growing number of people won’t know what you are talking about.
Such words are dying out because of the popularity of shortened text message-style terms, a survey suggests.
Researchers found a significant decrease in the use of words which our parents and grandparents would have uttered on an almost daily basis.
Bally, laggard, rambunctious, verily, felicitations and spiffing were among other words they claimed would confuse the text generation.
Researchers questioned 2,000 adults to mark the launch of Planet Word, a book which tells the story of language from the earliest grunts to Twitter and beyond.
Its author, JP Davidson, said: “Language is something that is constantly evolving.
“You only have to look on Twitter to see evidence of the fact that a lot of English words that are used say in Shakespeare’s plays or PG Wodehouse novels — both of them avid inventors of new words — are so little used that people don’t even know what they mean now.
“This could be viewed as regrettable, as there are some great descriptive words that are being lost and these words would make our everyday language much more colourful and fun if we were to use them.
“But it’s only natural that with people trying to fit as much information in 140 characters that words are getting shortened and are even becoming redundant as a result.”
Researchers found that one in 15 of the people questioned had never used the word drat and half didn’t know what a cad was. Despite this 83 per cent thought they had a good vocabulary.
One quarter now used “text speak”, such as “lol” and “soz” in verbal conversation as well as in written communication on mobile phones, emails and social media sites.
Most admitted they often came across words they did not know, with teenagers and those in their twenties finding this happening more frequently than any other age group.
Seven out of ten said they used different words now from 10 years ago, and they embraced slang and regularly used it. Most said they enjoyed learning new words and liked the idea of the language changing.
But despite this more than a quarter of parents said they were often baffled by the language and slang their children used while a similar amount admitted being equally confused by words that their elderly parents used.
Planet Word is the official tie-in book to accompany the Stephen Fry series of the same name on BBC Two.
:: The Oxford Dictionary of English defines cripes as “exclamation, informal” and balderdash as “senseless talk or writing; nonsense”. Lol is the text abbreviation for laugh out loud, soz is the abbreviation for sorry.