July 22, 2018 | ° F

Embrace evolution of English language

We don't commonly associate LOL, OMG and FYI with the talk of intellectual college students. Instead, use of these abbreviations is looked upon by older generations as a sign of laziness and immaturity, and even younger folk agree that they are only suitable for very casual conversations. What are we to make, then, of the fact that these three acronyms have been officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) — the be all, end all of proper usage in the eyes of English professors and many others? Is this a sign of language degradation? Are the younger generations destroying English by introducing these acronyms into everyday speech and perpetuating their usage? To anyone who answers "yes" to these questions, calm down. Everything will be just fine.

While many people — especially the more conservative English majors at the University — may find this news unpalatable on first glance, this is not a sign of linguistic apocalypse. Language is a living thing. It constantly evolves. The introduction of these acronyms into the OED is just another step of that evolution. If the OED didn't accept new words into its pages every once in a while, we'd have a pretty stagnant and lacking language on our hands. Thankfully, we don't, and we should all be happy about that.

If you still aren't buying it, perhaps a couple of examples will help. Consider William Shakespeare and John Milton, two writers who need no introduction. These two men, who are both widely considered to be among the greatest writers of the English language, engaged in creating neologisms, or new words. For example, without Shakespeare, we wouldn't have the words "critic" or "cater" in our vocabulary. Likewise, Milton is, according to some sources, responsible for bringing 630 words to life, including "pandemonium" and "sensuous."

So let's not look at this as a bad thing. In fact, you should be happy every time the OED decides to recognize new words. Surely, no one would accuse Shakespeare or Milton of being lazy, unintelligent or immature for making up new words. So why should anyone level those criticisms at the makers and users of LOL, OMG or FYI? Now those people have the OED on their side.

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