HD: Adding Twerk to “The Dictionary”
Posted: 29 August 2013 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Me too.

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Posted: 29 August 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Following a series of links from that essay brought me to another by McIntyre containing this gem:
“Complaining about slang is like complaining that the tides keep the ocean from being level.”

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Posted: 29 August 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, what John said.

But then McIntyre said he figured out what “squee” meant from the context...and didn’t tell us.

Whatsamatter U, McIntyre?  Want us to experience a FOMO?

Squee you, McIntyre.

[just kidding, I think]

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Posted: 29 August 2013 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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And, for me, it was helpful to find out what “twerking” actually meant, as I’d never heard of it before the Miley Cyrus debacle.  I guessed from context that it either referred to the specific type of “dancing” she performed, or, more broadly, to a celebrity making a buffoon of him or herself on live TV, leading to an immediate flood of negative tweets.  The former, of course, is what it means, but the circumstances under which I learned of the term primed me to misread it.  Also, it seemed to have a “social media” ring to it, but, apparently, it predates social media by a good margin.  I even had a half-baked folk etymology that fit with my wrong guess as to its meaning: that twerk was a fusion of “twitter” (or, perhaps, “tweet[s]") and “jerk.”

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Posted: 30 August 2013 11:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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This word has been used in hip hop for at least a decade.
Perhaps Miley’s influence will bury it as a cool thing.

EDIT: Hmmm, and the rest. Seems there are cites for it back to the mid-1990s.

[ Edited: 31 August 2013 12:00 AM by OP Tipping ]
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Posted: 01 August 2014 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Twerk have been part of our working vocabulary for quite a while now—over 20 years, in fact. The 1993 song Jubilee All by D.J. Jubilee cited its first usage of the word twerk, and it’s on YouTube for you to hear. Oxford says we may never know the actual origin, but at least this erases the common perception that Miley ahole Cyrus coined the word. All she did was popularize it.

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Posted: 02 August 2014 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, a typically sensible and punchy essay; thanks for sharing it.  My only quibble is with “the Oxford English Dictionary, though an heroic achievement, is simply an historical dictionary, a record of the language”: what on earth does “simply” mean here?  (Well, my other quibble is with “an historical,” but I suppose that’s a style guide at work.)

[ Edited: 02 August 2014 05:23 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 02 August 2014 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think he means that the OED does not, by the fact that it is “venerable” (a word McIntyre objects to in this context), have any kind of official authority. It is “simply” a record of the language, not a language academy that approves usages.

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Posted: 02 August 2014 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Well, my other quibble is with “an historical,” but I suppose that’s a style guide at work.

It’s a rather old-fashioned usage, but lots of Anglos who’ve never seen a style guide use it—many of them say “an hotel” as well. Then there’s “honour”, which is usually “an honour” on both sides of the pond. And there’s the interesting case of the name of the letter H itself, which is pronounced, and spelt, differently in different parts of the world.  Autres lieux—autres moeurs, to paraphrase an old French saying.

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Posted: 03 August 2014 02:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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’Honour’ and ‘hotel’ are rather different, though. ‘An honour’ is universal, because the H is silent; some people pronounce ‘hotel’ without the H as well. The reason why ‘an’ is used before ‘historical’ is that there is a convention by which that form of the article is used before words where the H is sounded, but the first syllable is not stressed. This convention isn’t universally observed in the UK, and not at all in the US, as far as I’m aware, which is presumably why languagehat objects to it.

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Posted: 03 August 2014 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It’s a rather old-fashioned usage, but lots of Anglos who’ve never seen a style guide use it—many of them say “an hotel” as well.

Yes, but he’s a Murrcan, not an Anglo, so it’s a different case, as kurwamac says.  If he weren’t who he is, I’d suspect him of runaway Anglophilia and/or old-fuddyism, but since he’s McIntyre, I suspect adherence to a style guide (of a reprehensibly old-fuddy nature).

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Posted: 03 August 2014 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I get your point, lh.
Thank you, Kurwamac. I wasn’t aware of the existence of such a convention. I suppose it prevails in circles more socially and educationally rarified than those in which I learned to speak English as I do. Accordingly, I suppose one would say “an halation”, “an horticulturist”, “an holistic practitioner”, “an hereditary trait”? All of a sudden I feel kin to the central character of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf, who pronounced Goethe “Go-Eeth” (and now, I’ve got a new bit of absurd linguistic one-upmanship up my sleeve, like knowing how to pronounce “Menzies”, or “Gonville and Caius”. Thanks again! ;-)

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