Watch your language

You can chillax with Scrabble, and now that's even a permitted word to play. Lee Hoagland / The National
You can chillax with Scrabble, and now that's even a permitted word to play. Lee Hoagland / The National

Young Scrabblers, who might have been frustrated with the decade-old lexicon, can “chillax” now, as the 66-year-old game gets an update to accommodate the language of their generation.As The National reported yesterday, the latest edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary includes 5,000 new words such as “selfie”, “bromance”, “frenemy” and “funplex”, which many think will help the game stay relevant.

So when Scrabble purists have decried these additions saying, for instance, that chillax is “not a word”, you can reasonably assume that they mean it’s not a word they like, not a word in standard usage and not a word they would use. There is an important difference. Regardless of the consequences, language will inevitably evolve and change.

Take English for example, which is splintering and changing so much that we may not recognise it at all after, say, 100 years. Yet, we can’t prevent the transformation. Similar changes are taking place in Arabic, in which a large number of foreign words are creeping in. In the age of social media and internet, informal language is evolving faster than ever.

Languages are as much lenders as borrowers. It is this transaction that keeps languages fresh. After all, if change is the only constant in this world, how can we expect language to remain unaltered?

Published: August 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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