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Posts tagged ‘words’

Not Watching the Super Bowl?

I have always seen myself as patriotic.  Even back when I protested about the Vietnam War, I labeled myself patriotic.  I cry when I hear the national anthem.  I cringe when I see flags on display that are worn and tattered.  I support our troops, no matter what I think about the war.  I believe in Mom, Apple Pie and the American Dream.  I love what are touted as American Ideals of being honest, hard working, persistent.  I also eat lots of fast food, watch way too much TV, and spend more than I should—gotta love those credit cards!  I speak only English; oh sure, I know a little Spanish but that’s almost by accident.  There is no way I could be deemed bilingual.

Doesn’t all that prove I am truly American?  Until today I would’ve thought so.  Brace yourself:  I am not watching the Super Bowl!  The other day on one of those silly entertainment news shows (now there’s an oxymoron!) one of the hosts was aghast at someone not watching the Super Bowl, not even to see the half-time show and the commercials.  She really thought the person was a big fat liar:  “How could you not watch the Super Bowl?”

At that point, I worried that maybe I was not as patriotic as I thought.  After all, here are some things I must admit to:

  • I do not watch Jersey Shore or other so-called reality shows, except accidentally.
  • That includes the fact that I do not watch American Idol or So You Think I Can Dance, which further  includes—of course—not phoning in votes.
  • I have a cell phone, but I do not text or download apps, nor do I tweet.
  • I do not play “Angry Birds” or “Words with Friends.”
  • I do not own a iPhone, iPad, or anything like an X-box.  I do not even have a DVR.
  • I do not automatically believe what I hear on the news, especially Fox News.
  • As I have already said, I am not watching the Super Bowl; instead I am blogging, reading, even writing some bills and thinking about cooking.

Do you see what I mean?  If I keep this list going, I could pretty quickly label myself as definitely not a stereotypical American.  But then, I guess that is not the same as being unpatriotic, is it?  So I ask you, are you patriotic?  What do you do that demonstrates that? Or, if not watching the Super Bowl today, what are you doing?


I have not thought about the O.E.D. (Oxford English Dictionary) in years. Back in 1978, I was thrilled to join a book club because the introductory offer allowed me to buy my very own personal condensed edition of the O.E.D. The package deal included a magnifying glass to help read the small, small print of the two-volume set. Later, in the classroom, I would bring in the O.E.D. to help introduce students to the wonder of words and all the specialized dictionaries available. I still have the two-volume tome, but I do not heft it open much anymore. After all, nowadays for only $295 a year I can have full access to the online O.E.D. (www.oed.com).

When I visited the O.E.D. website earlier this evening, I saw the quote of the month was by Jonathon Swift from January 1720: “Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style.” I wonder if Swift would label the new initialisms that have recently been added to the O.E.D. as proper words at all. I know I am skeptical. Initialisms? Yeah, that’s a word! An acronym is a specialized initialism where the abbreviation is pronounced as a word. For example, NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A different type of initialism is a comparable abbreviation of a phrase but pronounced letter by letter.

I was alerted that this year’s new additions to the O.E.D. include initialisms by reading a blog entry by Tim: “FYI: English language continues to evolve—OMG!” His blog is titled Slouching Toward Thatcam. The title of his entry contains two initialisms: For Your Information (FYI) and Oh My God (OMG). Others include Laughing Out Loud (LOL) and Too Much Information (TMI). When I consider these new words objectively, I concede that they are indeed used daily throughout the world—and people understand what they mean. I even use them periodically myself. Tim is right when he offers this explanation: “This rash of new initialisms is of course a reflection of the new world of informal digital communication.”

Even though I can understand why this “rash of new initialisms” has been added to the O.E.D., I still am bothered by the action. It just somehow feels wrong. Seems to undermine the very power of language to clarify and expand, to add layers and complexity. I bet Swift would not deem LOL or OMG as “proper words.” But then I wonder if the legitimization of these letters as words is really what has saddened me.

On second thought, I think it is more my general reaction to change, especially change that makes me feel old. You see, I still like handwritten notes. I use and appreciate e-mails, but I know that today’s teens feel that communication medium is too slow and opt instead for tweets. I do not tweet. It just seems silly to announce to the world my immediate actions and random thoughts. Heck, I don’t even text and have not turned on the instant messaging option available through my e-mail account, so why would I tweet? Already aware that I was not keeping up with the communication changes evident today, I have recently taken action to feel more current and up to date. For example, I created a Facebook page and—look!—I am even writing my very own blog. I must admit, however, that I am still not real sure what to do with either of my new creations.

Somehow, O.E.D. officially adding LOL and OMG into the lexicon of the English language forced me realize that I am further behind than I thought. It is that realization—not the acknowledgement of some new words in the language—that has me a bit distraught. Maybe I will feel better in a few years. I’ll probably even be tweeting by then. Of course, by then, tweets will be old too (if they aren’t already) and replaced by something even newer. OMG! I better LOL now and find a way to turn TMI into FYI before I am set aside to RIP.

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