back to article 'Backronym' crowdfunds itself into Oxford English Dictionary

Proof, were it needed, that El Reg is down wiv da lingo comes with the inclusion of "backronym" in the Oxford English Dictionary – one of 500 new words just added to the bulging lexicon. As regular readers know, we like a nice backronym, hence "Paper Aircraft Released Into Space" (PARIS), "Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator …

  1. Dan Paul

    For all those pedantic bastards out there....

    as follows taken from the OED page referenced in the article

    "Global varieties of English

    The territorial expansions of the United Kingdom between the late 16th and early 18th centuries, and of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries carried the English language around the world. In each country where English is spoken, whether as the primary national language or as a secondary language alongside others, it has changed and developed in the context of its new surroundings, not only through loanwords, but also through localized neologisms and changes in the usage of common English words."

    Of particular note, please notice the opening phrase "Global varieties of English" and the last sentence of the paragraph.

    You don't have a corner on the language, its usage or spelling anymore. It has been commoditized by sheer usage and changes too frequently to be locked in to your ideals anymore.

    1. Lt.Kije

      Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

      Hmm.

      Maybe we should start charging you foreigners royalties. You have been freeloading on our intellectual property for far too long.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: charging royalties

        Original copyright has expired. All of us dirty foreigners have copyrighted our perversions of your language and will soon be charging you royalties.

      2. Charles Manning

        Royalties

        " start charging you foreigners royalties" which would then have to be paid to the other languages English stole/subcontracted various words and grammar from.

        Better than royalties would be an EULA.

        By opening the wrapper People using this English Communications Technology (herein refered to as English) agree to......

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

      A pedantic bastard writes:

      That doesn't mean "anything goes". I think you're making the incorrect assumption that prescriptive usage is the basis of pedantry. Not so. What pedants are trying to protect is defined by usage.

      As a matter of fact, the errors corrected in postings to El Reg are mostly malapropisms, spelling mistakes, and solecisms such as "there" for "their". These would be wrong in any language community.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: anything goes.

        Unnecessary quotes. You could put them round "El Reg" so they don't get wasted.

        8o)

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: anything goes.

          Unnecessary quotes.

          I disagree. The formula x means y has two usages:

          x implies y, as in Nuclear war means the end of civilisation.

          x can be paraphrased as y, as in Antediluvian means "before Noah's flood".

          In this case my intention was something closer to the latter. In other words, not The text referenced in your posting does not imply that everything is permitted, but The text referenced in your posting cannot be summarised as "everything is permitted". To my ear, at least, the two are quite distinct.

      2. Bleu

        Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

        I do not recall seeing any correction process on the Reg., except for Regtards noticing the sub-literacy of many of the 'journalists', and correcting them at times.

        That is not to say that I have not learnt much from the better and more flawless writers here.

        People have this delusion that on-line papers (and I am including the ones that have paper editions) have proofreaders and sub-editors who have facility in their language.

        Proofreaders are gone, and most of the sub-editors, as many of the writers, are grads from the easiest of degrees who lack any facility with their own language.

        Note, I am not pointing at the Reg., which has a pretty good standard, but enough howlers pop up to see that there is no proofreading.

        Major media sites are much worse.

    3. Alister Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

      So you think that people who spell the word lose as loose (which is a completely different word with its own meaning) should be encouraged, and not vilified as losers, which they will no doubt spell as loosers...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

        Yes, well they should *of thought of that...

        *This pedants pet hate.....

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

        "losers, which they will no doubt spell as loosers..."

        Noooooooo....that just stinks!!

    4. Triggerfish

      Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

      You see I think you may be talking about the difference between descriptivist and prescriptivist grammaticists, one lot say you can play fast and loose with the rules because its about flow and context and the others say you stick rigidly to the rules no matter what.

      None of them say forget how to spell words though, thats just silly.

      1. earl grey Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

        its about flow and context

        it's about flow and context

        sigh...

        1. Triggerfish
          Facepalm

          Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

          I upvoted you as well and I wrote that...doh.

        2. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

          Good grammar is the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.

      2. Bleu

        Re: For all those pedantic bastards out there....

        The 'descriptive not prescriptive' crowd often say precisely what you claim they do not, and they have absolute dominance in your language institutions.

  2. Unep Eurobats
    Facepalm

    Comedogenic

    Thoroughly pointless as everyone will assume it means telegenic but for sitcoms.

    1. Bleu

      Re: Comedogenic

      I agree, it is a very odd choice, does someone having a better range of medical vocab. than mine (broad) have the ability to explain how it is more than a cheap bullying term that will expire very quickly?

  3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    They forgot the additional meaning of the prefix "pro-" as in pro-bacillus or pro-retinol meaning 'three letters added to another sciency word to make a product sound really expensive and worthwhile spending money on eg pro-biotic or pro-qubit'

    1. Alister Silver badge
      Coat

      'three letters added to another sciency word to make a product sound really expensive and worthwhile spending money on eg pro-biotic or pro-qubit'

      Also "pro-Vitamin" which can be further enhanced by the addition of a random number and letter after it:

      "New pro-Vitamin B5 Tile Grout, for that fresher, long-lasting whiteness"

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        New pro-Vitamin B5 Tile Grout, for that fresher, long-lasting whiteness

        Well, Mr Grout-Denier, I grouted my teeth with this product and not only is my breath minty fresh but I no longer need to waste time flossing.

        1. lesession

          Re: New pro-Vitamin B5 Tile Grout, for that fresher, long-lasting whiteness

          And I hope your teeth are also completely waterproof!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Provitamin has been in use in medical texts since at least 1930s.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    How long do we have to wait for "Total Inability To Support Usual Performance" to make the grade?

  5. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    As a nearly-lifelong* resident of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

    ... I take some small amount of pride that the term "Masshole", a derogatory term for those of us so favored -- used by the benighted denizens of our neighbor-states -- earned inclusion in this year's additions.

    On behalf of my fellow residents, I'd like to thank the Academy...

    --------------------

    * ...save for the 2-1/2 years that I spent exiled in Los Angeles.

  6. Bryn Evans
    FAIL

    Twerking in the Thirties

    What is new about " Twerk " '?

    Walt Disney had it years ago " Hi Ho Hi Ho, it's off TWERK we go...etc.

  7. smartypants

    'Meh'

    It is important that we have a corner of the language set aside for people who have nothing to say.

    For five centuries or more, 'tut' has been languishing on its own. I'm so glad that it finally has a companion.

    1. Bleu

      Re: 'Meh'

      I think 'meh' is truly a leakage from Japanese, the same meaning for the same word is in our language for a long time.

      I think that is where 'The Simpsons' got it.

      It does not have the same meaning as 'tut', which is just a form of disapproving tongue click in both English and Japanese, but did not become a word here.

      In my more nightmarish imaginations, I picture cars and trucks with a button to emit a very loud tongue-click.

      I do it with my own mouth when some idiot suddenly turns on a bicycle, at speed, on the wrong side of the road, forcing me to brake my own bicycle, but of course, the idiot never uses the brakes.

      1. Snowman

        Re: 'Meh'

        The Simpsons were nowhere near the first usage of it, maybe it made it more nationally known but it was already well established on the west coast by the 1950s

        1. Bleu

          Re: 'Meh'

          I am glad to hear that, Snowman, it increases my suspicion that it is an import from Japanese.

          Many returned occupation soldiers from Japan at the time, since that was the time of the transition from the open occupation to the pretense of non-occupation.

          Can you offer any examples of usage from that time?

          I would much enjoy seeing some.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Meh'

        That tongue click is also spelt "tsk", though only since 1947, according to the OED, while "tut" is much older. It's interesting because it's a sound that isn't used in English other than in that particular interjection. I wonder how old the tongue click pronunciation is. The OED article for "tut" has citations from the 16th century but doesn't mention tongue clicks.

        1. Bleu

          Re: 'Meh'

          Not clicks, but the sound of putting tongue on palate then pulling it away. That is certainly the origin of 'tsk' and 'tut'.

          I thank you for the informative post, but I think you misunderstood mine, we do not have a word equivalent to 'tsk' or 'tut', as far as they attempt to reflect that sound of disapproval.

          Was only saying that US 'meh' is probably from Japanese, much the same word has much the same meaning, and is by far the older.

        2. Bleu

          Re: 'Meh'

          The tongue click by separation of tongue from palate to express disapproval, and the one that is incorpated as a consonant in Xhosa, which children everywhere like to play with, also the glottal catch in Scots, no doubt all go back to our prelingual chimp-like ancestors.

          OED may not mention the onomatopoeia of 'tut' or 'tsk', but it is blindingly obvious.

          1. LionelB

            Re: 'Meh'

            The tongue click by separation of tongue from palate to express disapproval, and the one that is incorpated as a consonant in Xhosa, which children everywhere like to play with, also the glottal catch in Scots,

            The Xhosa (and Zulu) click closest to what I understand "tsk" to signify, is written as a "c". There is also a more percussive click, written as "q" (more like a "popping cork" sound) and the "x" (as in Xhosa, a "clucking" sound). There is also an interesting implosive "b" sound. The clicks in Xhosa and Zulu were assimilated from the various Khoisan languages of Southern Africa, which generally feature many, many more clicks.

            Interestingly, I recall the Xhosa-speakers' equivalent of "tsk" (as an expression of disapproval) as a more drawn-out sucking in of air between the toungue and teeth.

            no doubt all go back to our prelingual chimp-like ancestors.

            Like all other speech sounds, then.

        3. Bleu

          Re: 'Meh'

          I must, regarding 'tut, tut' and 'tsk tsk', the latter being almost unpronoucable, I have seen British films where people throw a schwa or i or oo between the t and the s, but the only reason they entered your language as words was as onomatopoeia.

          The original people using 'tsk' and 'tut' in writing were only trying to express the sound of tongue pressed against palate then pulled away.

          They only became words through readers assuming that they were, and perhaps, finding them less impolite than the true monkey-signal sound they originate from, which remains common currency, at least in Japanese, Chinese, Malay/Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, English, other European languages, and I have no doubts, many others.

          In Chinese, Putonghua and Fujien, I would guessing all dialects, it has also become an onomatopoeic word, mainly for expressing impatience.

      3. LionelB

        Re: 'Meh'

        I'll go with Yiddish on this one. My grandfather used it regularly as far back as I can remember (i.e. the 60s). One theory is that it derives from "mnyeh" as popularised by Leo Rosten, although others apparently dispute that such a word ever existed in Yiddish.

        1. Bleu

          Re: 'Meh'

          That is the most laughable and stupid comment.

          You say at the same that it is from Yiddish, you don't speak Yiddish, then that you have a Yiddish-speaking ancestry that showed no sign of using the word in that way, but you are making the claim anyway.

          If the earlier poster (Snowman, IIRC) saying it was around in early 1950s California, it is making my own theory of origin in almost the same meaning with the same sound in Japan most probably correct, spread by the returnfing soldiers.

          1. LionelB

            Re: 'Meh'

            That is the most laughable and stupid comment.

            Don't mention it.

            You say at the same that it is from Yiddish, you don't speak Yiddish,

            I said that? You must have read my mind - in fact I don't speak (more than a handful of words of) Yiddish.

            then that you have a Yiddish-speaking ancestry that showed no sign of using the word in that way,

            What way? They used it in exactly the current sense of the word (something like "don't care, not interested enough to express an opinion").

            but you are making the claim anyway.

            What claim? I expressed a preference (not a conviction) as to the (or a?) possible origin of the interjection. My views are pretty much as expressed here.

            If the earlier poster (Snowman, IIRC) saying it was around in early 1950s California, it is making my own theory of origin in almost the same meaning with the same sound in Japan most probably correct, spread by the returnfing soldiers.

            I heard it as a kid only amongst the elderly Jewish community in Cape Town, where I grew up. Unlikely, I would have thought, that their usage would be much influenced by California slang - except possibly via Hollywood, and I'm not aware of its usage in post-war film.

  8. Bleu

    OED

    is full of semi-literate scum whose only point in life is display (in the soc!iological-sexual sense) of how 'down with the 'nets' they are.

    On this principle, they shove any new word into the Shorter or Concise with no evidence of longevity, at the same time, ignoring words and patterns they dislike (their advice on the split infinitive is equivocal, but they clearly prefer not to accept it, even where it is the most natural choice).

    There are many similar examples in terms of vocabulary, words long in common usage, but they don't feel they get that 'down with the 'nets' credibility they crave from them, so they are not listed.

    Some of their 'experts' have even been pushing for acceptance of 'would of' as a valid alternative to 'would have' or 'would've'.

    Much more.

    They say 'descriptive not prescriptive'.

    An objective view is 'descriptive when I want to seem cool and down with the 'net talk, pretty fucking clueless in general'.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: OED

      Some of their 'experts' have even been pushing for acceptance of 'would of' as a valid alternative to 'would have' or 'would've'.

      Seriously??

      But it doesn't mean anything! It's not, in any way, a valid sentence to say "I could of been a contender". What's the of bit mean, in that context? Of what? Absolutely nothing.

      It's just a stupid way of representing how most people speak, without any understanding of the actual words they are speaking.

      If people were actually taught nowadays that could've is a contraction of the words could and have then maybe they would learn to write it correctly.

      </rant>

      1. Bleu

        Re: OED

        I am in full agreement. Accepting 'would of', 'could of' is a crime against your language, but is being suggested by 'experts'.

        Just commenting about the results of the extreme 'descriptive not prescriptive' thinking.

        You seem to have misunderstood my post.

        1. Alister Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: OED

          @Bleu,

          You seem to have misunderstood my post.

          No, no, I wasn't questioning what you said, except to question the sanity of the OED, I agree entirely with what you were saying.

          1. Bleu

            Re: OED

            Thx.

  9. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Twerk

    Twerk (noun) -

    Where a Yorkshireman goes every day to earn some money.

    1. Bleu

      Re: Twerk

      I think you have a very good point there, although you were only intending to joke.

      Since I first read 'twerk' I have thought it must be based on nasty pimp-prostitute expressions in disco and rap, which take the double meaning on the dance floor.

      It has to have been a contraction of 'to work your booty' originally.

    2. Whit.I.Are

      Re: Twerk

      "Really the Germans do allow themselves such twists & twirks of the pen, that it would puzzle any one."

      Germans in lederhosen twerking. Now that would be a sight...

      1. Bleu

        Re: Twerk

        Of whom is that the quote?

        Not that I am to doubt your veracity, whit, just curious, would enjoy hearing far more than to looking it up.

        I am also certain that its etymology is to having no connection with 'twerk' in the bum-wobbling dance sense, but in the conjunction with 'twist' in that sentence, it is funny.

  10. fatbuddha

    twerk - where Yorkshire people go between 9 & 5 on weekdays.. :-)

    1. Bleu

      Upvote

      because you were in B4 the OP I replied to above.

      Copying a comment is cheap.

      1. LionelB

        Downvote

        ... for the "B4".

        Eejit (Irish/Scots).

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