I’m not quite sure how to say ‘tears-of-joy emoji’, but it has been selected by no less an authority than Oxford Dictionaries as their 2015 ‘Word of the Year’. To find out why, you can read their less than convincing rationale.
I’m no language complaint maven, but I find myself dusting off Swift’s 1712 Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue in which he rails against those promoting changes to English usage, “the Pretenders to polish and refine it,” who, he declares, “have chiefly multiplied Abuses and Absurdities”. File under ’emoji’.
Of course, language always evolves, usages come and go, words – especially of the portmanteau variety – are invented and discarded. Just when my mother, a keen if sometimes bewildered silver surfer, had got to grips with some basic txt-speak, it turns out that LOL “is in decline”. Says Facebook, as quoted in the Economist… so it must be true.
Staying with the organ of miserable science for a moment, their ‘World in 2016’ special includes a striking piece by obituaries editor Ann Wroe (yes, hacks in the Economist get bylines in specials) which corrals a collection of bons mots which are to be banished, apparently, from the USA’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (better known as the SAT) into a New York cocktail party anecdote. Many of these words deserve revival not recycling, in my opinion, and I can’t help thinking Wroe’s work would be more fun without every implicated word having been italicised.
Still, it’s certainly worth asking the question, what are words worth? They make and break peace treaties, unite and divide lovers, inspire and oppress by turn. If only there was a catchy ditty that captured this feeling and… wait, remember 1981? Tom Tom Club?
I… er…. oh, . Sorry.