Monday 19 February 2018

Gaybourhood or felfie? Collins dictionary holds Twitter vote on new word

The extent of the loss isn't revealed as Twitter's company status here is unlimited and is therefore not required to file annual accounts
The extent of the loss isn't revealed as Twitter's company status here is unlimited and is therefore not required to file annual accounts

Matthew Sparkes

Lexicographers at Collins have been using Twitter as a research tool for some time to uncover emerging words and measure their popularity.

Now they are conducting an experimental competition by giving Twitter users the chance to directly cast their vote on which new word should make it into the permanent record.

The public has until May 28 to choose their favourite from a shortlist by using a hashtag to post a tweet, details of which can be found on the competition's website.

When the twelfth edition of the Collins English Dictionary is published on October 5 it will be the first to include a word sourced using Twitter.

Guardian columnist Lucy Mangan, who is a contributor to the Collins English Dictionary, said: “Twitter is the perfect place to find out what people are really saying and how they’re saying it. It’s a space in which you’re freer than almost anywhere else to combine old words, resurrect others or invent totally new ones whenever the need arises.”

The short-listed words are:

• Adorkable: dorky in an adorable way

• Duckface: a pouting expression when posing for a photograph

• Euromaidan: the original pro-Europe protests in Ukraine, named for Maidan Square in Kiev

• Fatberg: a large mass of solid fat clogging a sewer

• Felfie: a farmer selfie

• Fracktivist: an activist who protests against fracking

• Gaybourhood: a gay-friendly neighbourhood

• Nomakeupselfie: a selfie of a woman without her make-up

• Vaguebooking: posting deliberately vague messages on social networks to prompt a response

Collins claims that using Twitter to measure a word’s popularity is a natural extension of the established process by which the Collins English Dictionary is compiled – by analysing word usage across a range of UK and international print and digital media.

Ian Brookes, lexicographer and consultant editor to the Collins English Dictionary, said: “Language has always had to develop in response to changes in society and technology. In the twentieth century the development of the motor car, air travel, television, and the personal computer changed the things that people did and so brought many new words into the language. In the twenty-first century, the growth of social media has had a comparable effect.

“New words have come into effect to describe the specific things people do on social media: tweet, hashtag, unfollow. Moreover, social media also facilitate new ways of spending our leisure time, such as social gaming and couchsurfing, which in turn bring more new vocabulary into the language.”

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