In the wake of Miley Cyrus’ sad attempt to transform from cute pop star into a sex symbol, the Oxford University Press announced it is adding twerking to the online version of the Oxford English dictionary, that bastion of the English language.
If you don’t know what twerking is, well, it’s the style of dancing Cyrus performed onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards last Friday. And if that still leaves you in the dark, then lucky you.
Oxford defines twerk as “to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”
They’ve also added selfie, srsly, squee and a number of other “buzzworthy” words that they say have gained widespread currency.
We are not suggesting the English language isn’t an evolving, living thing, but giving slang expressions legitamcy, however useful or colourful they may be, is not the way to go.
If widespread currency was the only factor, then perhaps the OED should also be adding aks as a synonym for ask, as in, “I aks you, is dose Oxford guys for real?” Once the domain of New Yawk cabbies, Jersey Shore has certainly spread the dialectical variation far and wide.
Slang has its own power, mostly from cultural references used by a community to identify it’s members, eh? But the English language by itself is a wonderfully varied and subtle instrument. A simple word like dance can be modified by adjectives shading it to a precise meaning.
There is no need to add words to the dictionary that have no meaning in and of themselves, especially those that will fade and morph as the technology, trends and culture they are linked to change or fade away.
Anyone up for getting out our zoot suits and doing the lindy? Twenty-three skiddoo, baby!