I read an article recently which suggested a campaign had been started to try and get a new word into the dictionary. So far, so Wordability. But when you realise that campaign started five years ago, then you begin to realise that the its chances of success are pretty remote.
Ivan Cash and Jeremy Knight felt there was an issue with the phrase next weekend. Does it mean the weekend coming up or the one afterwards? How do we cope with this ambiguity without convoluted phrases such as ‘not this weekend but the weekend after’.
To avoid confusion, and to lessen our wasted words, they came up with the word Oxt, defined as above, produced a website and even created this helpful illustration:
While I applaud some of the sentiments on the website, especially the sense of English as a changing entity where new words can take root and flourish, there are a couple of fundamental flaws with Oxt.
The first – well it’s a pretty terrible word. For me, it has absolutely no bearing on what it is meant to mean. In terms of deriving it from other related words, I don’t think it succeeds.
Secondly, it is quite unnecessary. I have managed for years with this weekend and next weekend and frankly, very little need to explain the difference between the two. And if there has been a difference, then explaining it is no big deal. But this can be proved with the definition the creators have come up with. If Oxt weekend is defined as ‘not this weekend but the weekend after’, then that definition only works if ‘this weekend’ is completely understood and unambiguous. And if ‘this weekend’ is unambiguous, then so is ‘next weekend’. So Oxt is unnecessary.
So if this word is five years old, why am I writing about it now. Well Vox picked it up online a couple of weeks ago and wrote about it, and that spawned some follow-ups, with the Guardian undoubtedly the most prominent.
Frankly, I don’t think it matters whether people are writing about it this week, next week or even oxt week. Oxt is not here to stay.
One thought on “Not the Oxt Big Thing”
Re: “And if ‘this weekend’ is unambiguous, then so is ‘next weekend’.”
False. ‘This weekend’ equals “next weekend” unless it is currently “this weekend.” You can’t just just change the definition of ‘next’ to mean “next after this/next.” There should have never been any ambiguity with “next weekend” if people used the “next” correctly. “Oxt” is only valuable in that it saves us from having to say “the weekend after this/next” when it is not currently “this weekend.” “Oxt” is fine and so is “Next.” People just need to use a dictionary and quit ruining our already well defined words.