Cool Beans

Cool Beans

And still they come! Every year new words slip effortlessly into our language. Invariably to stand the test of time they need brevity, wit and invention rather than simply be what we linguists define as either a profanity or vulgarism. As a philologist I list my favourite neologisms (newly coined words) that have originated often from social networks and have come into general use across last year (2014) from around the English-speaking globe.

Once they have crept into our language unofficially and informally in time they become part of our standard language as the Dictionary boffins at both the Oxford and Cambridge University Presses. There are the usual new exclamations like cool beans and mahoosive which you can interpret as exceptionally big or huge.

Commerce seems to rule us even with its modifications with rapid decline in the price of one or more commodities or securities, typically one caused by automated trading; concierge medicine: a sector of medical practice where extra attention is given to wealthy patients able to pay a high price; reshoring translatable as the act of moving jobs that had previously been done in other countries back to the country where the company is based and reverse showrooming which is the practice of researching a product online and then going into a store in order to buy it.

Technology inevitably is changing our vocabulary. In comes vape, to smoke an electronic or e-cigarette and fave, to mark a tweet as a favourite on Twitter. We now have cryptocurrency, a generic term for bitcoin-type e-currencies and doxxing which is the activity of publicly revealing someone’s identity and other personal information online. We have already got used to having a digital footprint: the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of our  online activity as well as infobesity which we recognise as the interpretation for information overload.

Technology reappears in our indulgence in video games with permadeath, a situation in which a character cannot reappear after having been killed and respawning translating as reappearing after having been killed.

Or it rules our lives with the use of mobiles with usie which is a self-taken photo of a group of people; a couplie which is a self-shot of a couple and kill switch: a facility which renders a handset useless if it is stolen. Then there’s ped-text which is to text someone while walking; nomophobia, a humorous fear of being without one’s mobile phone and, rather amusingly, an unplugged wedding which is a wedding at which no one is allowed to bring phones so that there will be no photos posted to facebook or instagramming!

These devices even seem to affect us physically. There is tech neck meaning wrinkles in the neck area caused by looking down at phones, tablets; kninkles which are wrinkles above the knee and thutts which is really an undefined area between the thighs and the buttocks, caused by excessive weight and lack of muscle tone.

Though we are all still human, with new words to describe relationships … hutch up: to move in with someone else at an early stage in a relationship; dadding which means carrying out the duties of a father and silver splicer which is a person who marries in later life.

Characters get a new lick of descriptive paint with the ant’s pants: an outstandingly good person or thing or the economic man: a hypothetical person who behaves in exact accordance with their rational self-interest or the silvertail: a person who is socially prominent or who displays social aspirations.

Fashion is alive for some more than others with loom band: a very small, brightly-coloured rubber band which is woven together with others in a variety of configurations to make bracelets and other items and normcore: a fashion trend for bland, undistinguished clothes.

Some activities mercifully are spared technology: fridge kid: a young British winter Olympic hopeful who trains in a snow dome as opposed to a mountain and tiki-taka: a style of play involving highly accurate short passing and an emphasis on retaining possession of the ball in football.

Though getting around, it seems, presents the same problems with quietway: a backstreet, cycle-dedicated road which cars are not allowed on; sticker licker: an official who issues parking fines and dead-cat hole: the space between the top of a car tire and the body of the car.

The evolution of English language is in a healthy state and long may a continuation of interesting neologisms be granted official status.

Emma Tidey
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