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Hangry, Man Bun, Friendiversary: Are These Words the Result of a Failing Language?

Aubrey Anderson, Assistant Opinion Editor

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A recent article on www.cnn.com got me thinking. The article discussed how www.dictionary.com has added 300 new words to their repertoire. After a large amount of research and looking through the data about what definitions people are trying to look up, 300 words were considered qualified enough to be added. Some of the words/phrases that have now been added are: hangry, friendiversary, dad bod, sext, and man bun.

The article also posed a very intriguing question for me. Does the addition of these words and phrases represent the gradual failure of the English language or the growth? I decided to interview Kathy Kapitan, one of the English professors here on campus. When I asked her about her thoughts on the new additions, she recognized some of them but others were confusing to her. However, she supports the idea of the addition to the dictionary wholeheartedly. She explained it to me this way, “The English language is like music. It changes with time.” She pointed out the fact there were only a few genres of music in the very far past and now there are so many, no one can keep up. The same can be said for English. We started with only a few words, and today we are still creating new words. Professor Kapitan also told me that she used to have her students create a new word for an assignment. She loved seeing what people would come up with and what their new word would mean. It helped her better understand the student and potentially what they had experienced in order to create such a word.

Before meeting with Professor Kapitan, I had an opinion on this topic. After meeting with her, my opinion was strengthened. I think by adding these 300 new words to dictionary.com is great news for the English language. Like Professor Kapitan said, language changes with time. We no longer say things like Shakespeare would; no “thou’s” or “thine’s”. Does that mean that English is failing? In my opinion, no. English grows and develops into new words that apply to our lives. The world grows and creates new things every day. The new discoveries and creations need to have names, resulting in new words. I do admit the new words that we are creating are not the most elegant sounding, but they are a snapshot of our culture. I find these new words to be like an awkward, yet beautiful time capsule. By them being added to the dictionary, we can say we have left our mark on the world by the words that we created. In my opinion, that is a very beautiful thing. The English language is meant to grow and change. English is the way we communicate and as our culture, technology, and experiences evolve, our language must evolve right along with us.

 

1 Comment

One Response to “Hangry, Man Bun, Friendiversary: Are These Words the Result of a Failing Language?”

  1. Some Nameless Guy on April 21st, 2017 12:51 am

    The measure of whether a language is declining or growing should be how expressive it is. How nuanced, or precise statement can you make in it – it’s precision….

    For example, the word ‘hangry’ increases the language as it let’s us express something we couldn’t before. It is a VERY helpful word when your significant other is in a bad mood…

    Friendiversary – not so much. It saves one syllable, by replacing “friend anniversary”, and adds no extra meaning to it.

    So, the language’s precision grows, but also gains faff.

    d

    [Reply]

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Hangry, Man Bun, Friendiversary: Are These Words the Result of a Failing Language?