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Not sure how I feel about the Twitter...

edited June 2018 in General


I don't know when you guys started it, or why -lol - but I guess I have to adapt. Think I am getting old... It just kills the rich-heritagy vibe for me. Twitter is a social media platform where only the popular thrives examplia gratia Justin Bieber. I wonder if there is a catch-all term for 'survival of popularity' in OED.

Plus it just goes haywire. I mean anyone can pretty much write anything... what constitutes the weight? Heck, what really constitutes the weight in selection process criteria for inclusion for the actual tome? #curious

In fact reading OED one can easily see a wealth of British literature and her references, yet virtually asymptotically zero references and dearth of intellectuals from India - Tagore, Nehru is rare forget others like Satyajit Ray or say African ones or say Chinese - or other minor countries with equally brilliant authors.

Anyway, even more importantly, if you/we start giving digital references, does it mean soon we shall see end of the print publication as we know it, or it already has?


  • Hi @zmahmud741
    Before I reply, let me ask my colleagues from the team of Editors for their input - so bear with me! :)

  • Hello @zmahmud741. We have asked our editors about this and they have commented:

    The OED has always taken a broad-minded approach to collecting citations, regarding any evidence that can be accurately dated as a potential source. A century ago, the inclusion of newspaper evidence in the dictionary was considered undesirable by some people who would have preferred literary sources.

    Practically speaking, the dictionary aims to describe words from all registers, and the informal exchanges collected on Twitter are a very useful source for some types of language that are hard to find written evidence for. That includes not only online slang, as you might expect, but also regional words that have been in use for a long time but rarely appear in published sources. [See more on that below, taken from this post:]

    It is often challenging to find written evidence for regional colloquialisms like these, which are used mainly in spoken contexts and don’t often make their way into print. The social media service Twitter has been an unexpected boon to lexicographers, as it provides a searchable record of millions of people’s informal use of English. Citations from Twitter are featured in many of the new entries for regional words. The quotation paragraph for the north-eastern word mafted (‘exhausted from heat, crowds, or exertion’) begins with a definition from a glossary compiled around the year 1800 and ends with a 2010 quotation taken from Twitter user @lucyinglis: ‘Dear Lord—a fur coat on the Bakerloo line, she must have been mafted.’ Entries like this are a vivid illustration of how modern lexicographers leverage the extraordinary resources of the digital era to build on the tradition established by our predecessors.

    We hope that this is helpful!

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