The Oxford English Dictionary has never worried about justifying the length of time it takes for words to be accorded official status in one of their quarterly updates. Wordability has consistently argued that some words take a bewilderingly long time to get recognition, and in its latest update, editor John Simpson espouses the value of watching and waiting as words bed down.
This of course is all very well, but if a word has been around since the 1980s before it is finally recognised, is that not a bit too long? It is especially lengthy when that word is so well established that people then take issue with the definition.
So it is with Bogan, a word from down under which has been defined in the new OED update as a boringly conventional or old-fashioned person or an uncouth or uncultured person.
It is the “uncultured” reference that has caused controversy. Many people in Australia and New Zealand are happy to refer to themselves as bogans, on the understanding that it refers to heavy metal-listening, jeans and black T-shirt-wearing beer drinking types. They argue that they are not “uncultured”, just different cultured. Dave Snell, an offended bogan, has even completed a PhD on bogan culture.
All of this proves yet again that many of the new words touted by the OED are not new at all. If they are as old as this one, then their inclusion risks causing controversy because they are so well established that their official definition is queried.
Actually, Wordability is much more interested in a recent blog about words that Oxford experts are tracking, albeit that they are not yet officially recognised. These include squoob, a conflation of squeezed and boob and referring to a prominent cleavage protruding from a tight bodice, and phablet, which combines phone and tablet.
Will these appear in the official OED list any time soon? Undoubtedly not. But it’s word like these, if they gain any kind of regular usage, which will continue to appear on Wordability.
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