I was recently writing the term ‘click throughs’ for a blog about a highly successful social media marketing campaign run for one of our clients, and couldn’t help noticing the red squiggly line my trusty word processor had scrawled under the word ‘throughs’. Before seeing this line appear I admit I had never contemplated whether the word ‘throughs’ had previously existed as a real, genuine, proper word, having become so familiar with hearing the word without ever seeing it written down. But after some thought, and some Googling (another term which doesn’t technically exist according to Oxford or Collins) revealed to me that it did not. Which got me thinking about the rich original lexicon being created by technological advances every day...
A vast and varied swarm of new language has flown into our brains and out of our mouths, without many of us even noticing. A diverse array of entirely new words has been created right under our noses in the last decade, words that have become totally engrained in the public consciousness.
Photoshopped, retweet, selfie (my humblest apologies for subjecting you to this truly awful word, although Oxford Dictionaries can take some blame for this, naming it the 2013 Word of the Year (although it was second in TIME’s vote of the same year for ‘The Thing You Never Want To Hear Again’), all words we would use and accept in conversation, but words that Microsoft Word doesn’t believe are words.
Even words like ‘like’ have take on a new meaning. Surely in the past only extremely desperate people would try to achieve a ‘like’ (see also wall, status and fired. Also follower) troll, tag was once found in the back of your t-shirt, even messages has transformed from a noun into a verb, thanks to texting according to Cambridge Dictionaries online.
What’s more, words created by or through technology can change, if not their meaning, then at least their usage, via the same medium. Incredibly ‘LOL’ is 25 years old! (and according to this article it has warped from an initialism to a pragmatic particle, given that it is almost exclusively written despite the absence of an actually audible laugh) even words created ‘by’ technology can change, if not their meaning, then at least their usage, via the same medium.
Many of the youngest generation don’t realise that # already had a meaning, given that I have seen actual tweets reading “#number1” Should that not read ##1? Or even #(squared)1?
And now I pass the baton to you. Have I missed anything off? Have a think and comment below with any techno-babble you find diluting the quality of your spoken English. And next time you hear one of these ‘words’ leave your mouth, have a think about where it came from, and if it actually exists.