Last week 6,500 new words were added to the Collins Scrabble word list, including a number of slang terms previously restricted to the realms of texting and social media. The Scrabble dictionary, which includes words from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and US, has always included a mixture of formal and informal English, but with more people using slang in social media, blogs, texts and literature, there’s now more evidence for colloquial terms that simply didn’t exist in the same quantities before.
Many of us are a bit obsessed with social media; tweeting, snapchatting, checking our Instagram feeds and texting like crazy, but in our efforts of condense our lives into 140 characters, we’re becoming reliant on slang to convey our feelings as quickly as possible. Keeping up with the latest terms is a constant effort and sometimes utterly baffling. As well as words like dench (meaning excellent and attributed to rapper Lethal Bizzle’s love of Dame Judi Dench), newbie, shizzle and tweeps making it into the dictionary, there’s also the addition of onomatopoeias like wahh, augh, blech, eww and grr.
Do we gain anything by officially adopting these new words into the English language or are we losing part of our heritage? As public relations officers, words are our commodity and whilst we love a beautifully constructed, grammatically correct sentence with every piece of punctuation in the right place, going with the times means using the right words in the right context and to the right market audience. We use different styles for writing press releases as we do for writing blog posts, and whilst we probably wouldn’t use dench or tweep in a business e-newsletter, it might be appropriate for a tweet from a clothing brand aimed at teenagers. There’s a time and a place for everything and the English language will continue to evolve just as it has in the past.
So whether adding these words into the Collins dictionary is good or bad, Scrabble has just gotten a lot easier!