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Friday, September 26, 2008

Urban Dictionary: The best place to watch language evolve

Urban Dictionary might seem a frivolous place for a poet to go a-browsing. But it's a brilliant window on English in transition

In just over an hour online I have learned 20 new words (or more properly neologisms). I have learned that to remove a friend on Facebook, is to "deface", that "thumb me" is to ask someone to send you a text message, and that "veepstakes" are "the process a candidate for president goes through to choose a running mate … a portmanteau word combining the colloquial pronunciation of VP as "veep" and sweepstakes".

For the third time in a week I am on, and haunted by the feeling that this is not quite what my time as poet-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust should be spent doing. Isn't this simply a transatlantic, online version of Viz's famous Profanisaurus? Well, no, it isn't really.


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