Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Grammar Nazis

I am somewhat the Grammar Nazi.  I'm not the best one, I'm sure.  There are, no doubt, several who have read these posts who would attack entire pages of my material with an editor's pencil and kill the entire thing, but I know more of the rules than you might guess.  Punctuation is not my strongest suit, but spelling and usage are.  I try my hardest to use words as they are intended to be used.  "Less" versus "Fewer", for example.  "Good" vs. "Fine", "Your" vs. "You're", and the classic "There" vs. "Their" vs. "They're"...

Compliments of Oxford Dictionary's Twitter page
So it really bugs me that The Oxford Dictionary decided that an emoji should become their Word of the Year.

Can we truly call something that would be unrecognizable as a word without a computer translating it to a visual representation a "word"?  What happens when there is no computer between the person writing the "word" and the receiver of the message?  Then, an emoji just becomes a sequence of symbols that, alone, make no sense.  :-(

We called them "emoticons" until the intervening computer translated them into graphical representations of that sequence.

OD defines "word" as: "A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed."  I suppose that an emoji can be considered a word if you use this definition.  It seems to meet the requirements.  It is a distinct element, it is often (though, not usually) used as part of a sentence.   But, is it still a word?

A list of the most recent Words of the Year include a hashtag, and the word "hashtag", itself.  While one might fit the definition of "word", I'm not as sure about the other.  Just as nominating a specific emoji might make me wonder if OD should start to use it's own definition of "word" when announcing their "Word of the Year".

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