London, Dec. 16 (AFP): The English language’s evolution in times past was a gradual process. But now, global mass communication is registering almost daily changes to the lexicon, as shown by 2005’s colourful new terms, “toxic soup” and “car-b-q” among them.
The terms ' referring respectively to the polluted floodwaters of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and the mass car burning seen in Paris’s recent riots ' are among a crop submitted to British dictionary group.
According to Jeremy Butterfield, editor-in-chief of Collins dictionaries, sites such as the group’s online word exchange are part of the transformation of the once-rarefied world of lexicography.
“It’s an updated way of the traditional system of people sending in notes of words and suggested definitions.... This is the 21st century version: it’s instant ' every day we get words submitted, we assess them and put them in our living dictionary ' and it’s democratic .... The old system was a group of intellectuals or word buffs. Because of that we get a huge range of slang and a certain amount of obscenity. We sometimes tweak the definitions but where possible, we keep the definition that’s there.”
Some of the examples may eventually make it into the world’s paper dictionaries ' about 50 made it into a supplement of the 2005 Collins edition ' while others will inevitably fall into the lexical dustbin.
This year’s crop to Collins, all submitted by the general public, provide a virtual reference point for recent cultural history and sit alongside a burgeoning list of text message terms and phrases.
In politics, Angela Merkel’s election as Germany’s first female chancellor spawned new adjective “merkelian”, while in health, “trojan ducks” and “sentinel chickens” became shorthand for apparently healthy poultry carrying the bird flu virus from southeast Asia.
Pope Benedict XVI’s protracted springtime election provided airtime and column inches for “vaticanistas” ' experts in Vatican affairs ' while the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s hardline religious stance earned him the nickname “God’s rottweiler”.
In sport, fans of Britain’s teenage tennis hopeful Andy Murray christened a grassy incline for spectators at Wimbledon “murray mountain”.