Grrrls Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Vowels: A Curmudgeonly Rant about Modern Words

In his August 1, 2012, post in mental_floss, Lucas Reilly lists "35 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary." The dictionary in question is the British Oxford English Dictionary Online, and after looking over Reilly's sampler of its newer members, I feel my rant powers stirring.

The Oxford word mavens appear caught in a tug-of-war between common sense and inadequate medication. Some of the words they have legitimized seem reasonable enough. Bling. Illiterati. Muffin top. Muggle. Good, I'll buy those and a number of others. They are functional and colorful contributions to the language. I'll even make room for droolworthy.

On the other hand, obvs (meaning obviously), totes (totally), and whatevs (whatever) are totally lowbrow. I mean, come on, we are talking about adverbs here, not plural nouns. Not to mention that obvs suffers from vowel-deprivation. I can't even say it without feeling like something is wrong with my lips.

And what the hell's with the apostrophe in d'oh? Is Bart Simpson secretly French? Why not just doh? Then I could embrace the word as a cousin of duh and a useful addition to the English lexicon. But not with the apostrophe. Good grief. B'ooger. F'art. C'rap. You can't make the inelegant elegant by Frankifying it.

As for grrrl, is there some secret campaign afoot to do away with vowels? I won't say that this word is the worst of the lot. I'll just say that I loathe it to the point of foaming at the mouth. I don't care how cleverly it blends grrr with girl, it is a far cry from a noble and deathless expression. It is a fad word, and not a very good one, either. It is an abomination, a juvenility, a gum-popping brat that needs to grow up into a word whose inner woman possesses brains to go with her brass bra. Other than those objections, I suppose it passes muster.

There. Did you enjoy my little rant? I just hope the wizards at Merriam-Webster are more discriminating than their British counterparts. I haven't looked, and I don't know if I can bear to find out. Though again, a lot of the words on Reilly's list are decent and well-behaved. I just needed to let my inner curmudgeon stretch, that's all. Given the topic, he had both reason to do so and plenty of room.

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