OMG! The Dumbing Down of America

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In March, the Oxford English Dictionary added its annual list of words to their repertoire most notably: OMG, LOL and <3. While these common online/text words may be fine when you are strapped for room in a 140 conversation or text, does this mean that kids can legitimately add these to their homework and term papers? I found this to be quite shocking.


For a definition of  slang words, I go to Urban Dictionary. This is the cool hangout for language used casually in conversation. Comes in handy when you want to figure out what your teens are discussing. There is a time and place for this type of language. OMG, LOL and <3 have had a very comfortable home here for quite some time.

I would like to suggest that instead of making things easier by adding slang to our official dictionaries that we begin to use more intelligent language. Challenge yourself, your friends and family by building bridges to more meaningful dialogue. Another common issue is overuse of words or phrases such as 24/7, transparent or amazing. I may stab myself in the eye if transparency is used again. Mix it up, use variety please. A few hearty alternatives to amazing: fascinating, incredible, stunning, wonderful, mind-blowing or spectacular. Some hipper terms: zero cool or real gone. Interest your audience with your scintillating phraseology.

While I may find you clever and capricious, you won't find me LOL'g or ROFLMAO at you. That doesn't mean that I don't <3 you.

Featured image courtesy of el_rogos via Creative Commons.

Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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  1. English teachers around the world are horrified!

    I guess it is a sign of the times or we have grown accustomed to the text and IM way of life that it is not rolling over into the actual way we speak? I guess we can be grateful for the ones that did not make the dictionary!

    1. I am proud to say that my teens still have larger vocabularies due to their extensive reading. There is a big difference between my oldest and youngest, oldest texts in full sentences, youngest in almost full text lingo. It will be very interesting to see how language is impacted long term. Thanks for reading & posting Suzanne.

  2. Peggy,

    *Wink* It is a paradox, technology and development is good bad. We can say I <3 you and lol! to save time and text, and sacrifice some beauty (words) in between.

    It is so in many cultures. Here in Nigeria we say LWKM! (another version of rotflol, but is pidgin/broken English). It is how society evolve, certain things that are fad eventually become mainstream.

    I am not sure we can salvage that. 🙂

    (I just used some of them, ha ha!) Nice perspective.

    1. Thanks for your perspective Jesse! Love learning about you, your culture and the similarities & differences.

  3. Peggy,
    Both are losing battles. My 13 year old daughter is good for close to 3000 texts a month (all using abbreviations and misspelled words (laugh if “laff”). It’s the reality of electronic communication and social media and it ain’t gonna change. We as parents need to adapt to the “lingo” or we’re gonna find ourselves out of touch with our kids.

    As for tired buzzwords, they’re also here to stay because they make such great blog fodder and because people are obviously easily impressed (“I had the most amazing cup of coffee this morning!”). Yawn.

    So are we as a people dumber than ever? For sure (thanks, social media & Bruno Mars!). But so what, the world’s gonna end in 2012 anyway…

    Not bad. You took aim at a something and stated your case (albeit a tad gently). Hug.

    1. Dan,
      My girls text upwords of 5,000 each per month. I do understand all of their teenspeak. Word! I agree with you about being in touch with your kids is key. It is shocking to me that so many parents have no clue what websites their kids are on and what they are doing online. Very scary to me.

      Ah, yes the buzzwords. Amazing, transparency and authenticity. The only one I will currently stand behind is bacon. People like it.

      I will be working on hitting a little harder in the future, just dipping my feet in the pool thus far. Definitely a hug. Honored you stopped by & commented. Cheers!

  4. Hi Peg! Congrats on diving into the blogging stream with this piece on the evolution of language. Will have to check and see if the dictionary defines gee whiz, and groovy,both words I still use, but are outdated and supplanted by sick and bad, etc. Upside it will be a lot easier to play Scrabble now that just about anything goes! xooxo Deborah

    1. Nice take Deb! Sadly those do not count in Words with Friends yet but I guess in the future any random collection of letters may count. I will prepare myself for granting points on OMG in a real game of Scrabble. Many thanks for reading & commenting. I have so much respect for you! Cheers

  5. Hey Natasha! I think that texticon has it’s place, just not in the OED. You can use transparency or anything else you’d like as long as we are tweeting & chatting I am happy. 🙂

  6. Thanks for stopping by Margie! Much appreciated. Sadly, I do not present or have a solution for the degenerate decease that our language has befallen. Maybe setting a good example by continuing to use proper grammar and full sentences is our best bet?

  7. Many thanks for making the effort to line this all out for people. This write-up was extremely useful in my opinion.

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