Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Words are all I have

I can converse in three languages fluently and also have the ability to mix and match the words from these languages into the same sentence. Now I am so comfortable with this mix and match that I often forget the origin of the word. Add to this all the slang of teenage and college days. The result - a new language that can baffle any stranger. In my younger days, we tried to invent a "code" language which parents would not understand. At that time the code would be very simple - reversing the word or switching letters in specific places. Of course we never had an earth shattering secret to hide. So it never mattered if our code language actually got decoded. Later in my teenage days, my normal language became code to my parents.

Language of course evolves with time. Words describe not only the kind of lifestyle but also the change in our mindset. I am sure the current English Dictionary looks completely different from it's first edition. It is also keeping pace and updating new words from different origins, communities and reflecting the time we are living in. I wonder how many of the actual English words are of English origin now.

Did you know that 1 millionth word is going to get added into Oxford Dictionary on June 10 2009? Following are the finalists:

* Chengguan: Urban management officers, a cross between mayors, sheriffs and city managers.

* Jai Ho! From the Hindi, “It is accomplished”: achieved English-language popularity through the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

* Mobama: Relating to the fashion sense of the US First Lady, as in “that is quite mobama-ish”.

* Noob From the gamer community: a neophyte in playing a particular game; used as a disparaging term.

* Phelpsian: The accomplishments of Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics.

* Quendy-Trendy: British youth-speak for hip or up-to-date.

* Wonderstar: As in Susan Boyle, an overnight sensation, exceeding all reasonable expectations.

* Zombie Banks: Banks that would be dead if not for government intervention

Who do you think should get the honor of being the one millionth word in English lexicon?

UPDATE: The millionth word is "Web2.0". Wow, I did not know it was a finalist. Thanks to it, we are able to meet in this virtual land.


Meira said...

hmm.'Jai Ho', I'd say. Not because its Indian, but because its the only word from the list that already exists (in another language)and is not based on any one person or thing.

Suma said...

interesting post, joy.

catching up with the lingo of the gen is tough...i keep hearing something new from my 7th grader and i do a double take!

ceedy said...

Thanks for the informative post :)

Next song from rahman will be Web Tu ohhhh instead of Jai ho :)

Archana Bahuguna said...

Beautiful post Jaya. Especially loved "Later in my teenage days, my normal language became code to my parents."

Forget about parents not understanding our language; if I had to look at a chat conversation of one of my younger cousins, I would be completely baffled decoding the abbreviated abbreviations "jftsoi hf!" :-D

Archana Bahuguna said...

And by the way. somehow "Jai Ho" really doesn't get translated into "It is accomplished". I dont know why they have preferred that translation over others like "Let there be victory" etc.

To evolve or not...