The digital dilution of English
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Last week, Oxford University Press published a blog post listing some of the new words that will be included in the next revision of their renowned dictionary. As always, there are some good additions, such as "cloud computing", which I've seen used in quotation marks in mainstream press, as if it's a foreign or pedantic concept. "Parkour", "vuvuzela", and "waterboarding" are also important concepts that have entered mainstream consciousness and warrant documenting, while "straightedge" is finally being recognized for the non-geometric meaning it has for decades conveyed.
A few words seem redundant and unnecessary. For example, why do we need eggcorn — "a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one that sounds very similar or identical" — when we already have mondegreen — "a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard"? And why are so many acronyms, like BFF (best friends forever), LMAO (laughing my ass off), and TTYL (talk to you later), becoming words in their own right, when their definitions are the very words they represent?
But more disturbing is the recognition of made-up words that are closely associated with specific online services. You're unlikely to find "tweet" and "hashtag" outside Twitter, or "unfriend", "defriend", and "poke" (meaning "to attract the attention of (another member of the site) by using its 'poke' facility") elsewhere but Facebook — well, these places and the next Oxford English Dictionary, apparently.
I'm worried that these additions represent current trends and fads that have not stood the test of time. Internet memes are not words. Words have lasting power; memes do not. In a decade, will we still be tweeting and unfriending? If these concepts are words, then why not "lolcat", "fail", "pwn", or "teabag"? Perhaps as a historical document, the dictionary serves a valuable purpose of decrypting today's communications for future generations, but these terms have not yet made it into general usage.
I respect that the Interweb (it's a word — look it up!) is a powerful and practical aspect of daily life. But words that have application within a specific and proprietary context should not yet have earned their way into our lexicon.
What do you think? Am I too draconian in my desired growth of the English language? Or should the vocabulary of social media become our own?