They say children keep you young, which I’ve always found puzzling. I’m sure mine have aged me at least two decades. But a recent work experience makes me think there might be something to it.
I’d written a good article on behalf of a client and submitted it to their industry’s leading online publication. When the story was published, I spotted what I thought must be a typo – the word ‘meme’ had been changed to ‘memo’, which didn’t make sense at all in the context of the article.
Calling to point out the error, I was stunned to discover the lovely, intelligent and successful editor had no idea what a ‘meme’ was so she’d ‘corrected’ it to ‘memo’, mistakenly believing that must be what I’d meant. I found myself in the ridiculous situation of attempting to explain what a meme is.
Believe me, this is harder than it sounds. I resorted to looking up the dictionary definition (“an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations” in case you’re interested) and going so far as to send her a couple of examples. She still didn’t believe me and meme stubbornly stayed as memo until I gave up the battle.
But it got me thinking about the importance of keeping up with ever-changing popular culture. The trends, social norms and, importantly, the language, to avoid becoming out of touch. It’s not much set against a lifetime of nurturing, chauffeuring and clearing up, but I believe that’s something I can thank my teen and twenty-somethings for.
New words for 2019
All of which is a roundabout way of announcing that this year’s additions to the Oxford English Dictionary have just been announced. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, here’s my pick of the 203 additions to give you a headstart in your next game of Scrabble:
- Summink/sumfin/sumthin/sumptin – four hateful variants on ‘something’
- Promposal – an invitation to be someone’s date to the school prom (quite useful that one)
- Whatevs – short for ‘whatever’ and used to denote the speaker is indifferent to the matter being discussed
- Simples – started as a catchphrase used by the loveable Russian meerkat Aleksandr Orlov in Compare the Market TV ads but given the official seal of approval when Theresa May used it in Parliament this year
- Jedi, lightsabre and Padawan – which fans will know originated in the first Star Wars film 42 years ago but are now being used in a wider sense
- Chirpse – the youthful version of the verb to flirt
- Amotivation – the condition of lacking motivation or purpose
- Begrudgery – envy or resentment at another’s success/happiness/wealth and a reluctance to give praise or show admiration
- Nomophobia – the phenomenon that is anxiety about a teenager’s worst fear – not having access to a mobile phone
What language-related misunderstandings have you experienced? Let me know below!