Can we please stop crowdsourcing the English language?
Does anyone know what all this oojamaflip that's been zhooshing up the Collins Dictionary actually means? Crave's Eric Mack has a few suggestions for the future of his mother tongue.
According to the Collins Dictionary, every word of the following paragraph qualifies as legitimate English:
"That oojamaflip zhooshing up the bang tidy K-pop on the banjolele is amazeballs! It's totally fandabidozi, but I'm just a fanboy who can't play squadoosh myself."
Nine of the words and phrases in the above two sentences come from the list of 86 new words, phrases, and senses (sort of like an additional definition for an existing word) that Collins added to its online dictionary as a result of an exhaustive crowdsourcing effort.
Now here's the mind-blowing part: those 86 new English words were chosen from a massive digital pile of more than 4,000 submissions sent in from the public.
So if oojamaflip makes the cut, imagine what sort of "verbal diarrhoea" (British spelling, also one of the 86) was passed up to make room for fandabidozi, which can be traced back to Scottish comedy duo, The Krankies.
Actually, you can see all the submissions on Collins' site. The number has now exceeded 5,000 -- and many of those thousands are still "pending investigation," but plenty of potential gems like "olympictastic" have already been rejected. Collins' editors said there was little evidence of the word's actual use. Maybe, but are all kinds of people really declaring how "bang tidy" stuff is every five seconds?
Look, I'm not trying to make a frenemy out of the Collins staff, and -- full disclosure -- when I'm not writing about and here at CNET, I'm gabbing about the potential of crowdsourcing over here. So I get the whole crowd thing, really I do.
But how does "amazeballs" deserve to be included in an official record of the language? And if an obscure Scottish duo is able to add some silly string of syllables like "fandabidozi" to the lexicon, shouldn't we be worried about the precedent this sets? Stephen Colbert could rewrite our entire language by the end of the week if he finds out about this.
It seems to me that the folks at Collins have decided that Facebook and other social networks are the etymological greenhouses (someone submit that for me!) of the 21st century. This feels a bit shortsighted. The word "Frape," a combination of Facebook and rape meaning "to alter information in a person's profile on a social-networking Web site without his or her permission," is also one of the newly added crowdsourced words that seems a bit too specific. Imagine if Collins had undertaken this effort six years ago -- we'd be stuck with a word like MySpackle instead.
Just because I get a little tipsy -- sorry, I mean blootered -- and sit down to tweet out some crazy made-up compound words from my own brand of lunaticerature or tack on some fancy suffixes to pop culture references like a true Gangnam Stylista doesn't mean whatever vom comes out of my brain deserves an entry in the dictionary.
But since it does seem to be that easy for now, perhaps it is finally time to give in and try to remake the English language in my own image. Maybe I'll start pushing for the official inclusion of the term Macksimum -- meaning charming and eloquent in the extreme -- into the mother tongue.