Tuesday, May 8, 2012

475,000 Isn't Enough For You?

            I am not a fashionista. That is not a word. Despite the fact that I should probably own stock in TJ Maxx, I am not a Maxxinista. That is not a word either. Bogo is no more a word than Pfogt (Pay for one get two). There is no such thing as a Spalon (is it really that hard to write out “Salon and Spa”?). And irregardless will never mean anything, regardless of how many people seem to think it will.
            What is going on with the English language? When did people stop wanting to be articulate? When did people in marketing decide they were smarter than the lexicographers? The Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged is said to contain 475,000 entries. It’s difficult to find an accurate count for how many words are in the English language (some estimates say 1,000,000+), especially given the debate over which words actually belong. There are many more words than there are people in the town I live in (roughly 30,000). I can’t imagine knowing all the people that live in my town, so I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to know every word in the dictionary. It would be nice to try though, wouldn’t it?
            This horrific, AWFUL, vomitrocious (That’s not a word either… I made it up playing Scrabble as a child. I think the definition is obvious.) term “fashionista” to my ears is worse than fingernails on chalkboards. One of my problems with it, aside from the fact that it just sounds vapid, is that “ista” is not a suffix used in the English language. While it may have its roots in Latin, like English, “ista” is primarily found in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. There aren’t any concrete word origins available for the term “fashionista,” though one website I saw claimed it was a combination of fashion (brilliant deduction there) and Sandinista. Now, until the moment I saw that website, I had never heard the term Sandinista. Given that it is actually the name of a Socialist political party in Nicaragua, I’m guessing that website was grasping imaginary straws.
            So, rather than find preexisting words to say what we mean, our society has decided to just make up new ones. According to the Oxford English Dictionary online, they add new words every three months. Even the lexicographers have sold out! I understand the addition of things like “fluoroquinolone” and “astrocytic.” The scientific fields are constantly running into new chemicals and discoveries that must be documented in the language. The point being, there aren't words already in existence. They aren’t creating words to feign intelligence or out of sheer laziness. Was it really necessary for March’s new word entries to include “scratchiti,” and “pussyclaat (wouldn’t recommend putting that one in a search engine),” and “vegetably?”
            The marketing word creations are the worst. Not only are they contributing to us becoming a nation of people who sound like total “boofheads” (another March addition, Australian slang apparently), they are turning said “boofheads” into advertising machines. Every time I hear the word “Bogo” I associate it with Payless Shoes. “Frappuccinos” are at Starbucks. “Maxxinista” is TJ Maxx’s variation on my least favorite fake word. I don’t know about you, but unless someone is writing me a check for some serious dollars, I don’t want to be an advertisement.
            Having a conversation with some of today's young folk is like trying to converse with a chipmunk. Supposedly, they are speaking English, but it sounds like senseless garbage to me. Is it really that exhausting to use real words instead of just pronouncing the first letter of every word in the sentence? Like OMG, ITCTNF (I totally contracted Toe Nail Fungus)! It’s like the whole country is developing a language disorder. (It’s called aphasia; don’t try and make a new word for that). I find it somewhat disconcerting that my German friends speak and write better English than the majority of people one hears interviewed on the news. Even worse, the language skills of the judging panel on America’s Best Dance Crew are F<3KING APPALLING. I realize we expect less from MTV, but unfortunately that’s what the chipmunk brained young folk are watching only perpetuating the problem. It’s one thing to cheat at Scrabble, where lifelong reputations are at stake. Indoctrinating a nation with nonsensical gobbledygook is inexcusable in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but don’t call me a fashionista or I’ll come at you like an angry midget in a Christmas movie.

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