Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Refudiate English

Refudiate. Gee last time I checked this wasn't a word, it was a typo. Today it's the Word of the Year. Now I like neologisms as much as the next person, but can the New Oxford American Dictionary really hold onto any shred of credibility when they make what should be a typo the word of the year? Initially I thought it all seemed to stem from one misspelled tweet back in July. But oh no. She keeps using it, over and over again. (I do like the title on that piece- Refudiate English, I'm going to pinch that) She speaks it, she tweets it. Arrrgh. It's like when George W Bush kept mispronouncing nuclear. It just won't stop. But I don't know what the hell the Obama wee wee'd up thing is either. At least that had been allowed to die a natural death. Refudiate is being resuscitated when it should be dead and buried.

The Washington Post bravely reminds us that Shakespeare famously made up lots of words. And he did. He's thought to have created thousands of new words. Somehow that seems ok, whereas this somehow, well, doesn't.

There is a surprising amount of stuff to be googled on what is not infact a word in the English language. And it gets weirder by the minute it seems. There are no plans to include refudiate in the New Oxford American Dictionary, or any of the other Oxford Dictionaries. So why make it word of the year? Is it really just a publicity ploy from the dictionary people? They pick what otherwise seems to be a slow news day and whammo- they're everywhere.

It's all like when Pauline Hanson famously asked "Please explain?" when faced with the word xenophobic. Should public ignorance be rewarded with political fame? No. I don't think so.

I personally prefer vuvuzela for word of the year. Actually, even nom nom is better than refudiate. I refudiate it. Absolutely.

Would Banjo have liked a good refudiation? We'll never know.

10 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

Yes - I prefer your words too!

Hilary said...

if you haven't seen it already you should watch this Louise - Stephen Fry being surprisingly non pedantic for someone so erudite.
Perhaps Obama meant wee-weed off? Very twee whatever it was!

Hilary said...

...and the link is... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

Louise said...

Oh I hadn't seen that before Hilary. It's fantastic. Although I feel live Stephen made that talking about me. OMG. A public dressing down from one of my idols. I too am quite astonished at his lack of pedantry. He does make some good points of course. Context, convention and circumstance are all? Not sure that I agree with Stephen here, glad he's too busy on twitter to read my blog.

whisperinggums said...

Oh, I don't know, "refudiate" has a certain "je ne sais quoi". You at least know where it came from/how it came about. As against "nucular" - where does that come from?

'Tis late, so will try to listen to Fry later. I am rather conflicted about this whole language issue - we need standards but we also need change. How to find the right balance?

Revel said...

Louise, that is exactly how I felt listening to Fry!! I even hesitated before sending it on as I don't fully agree with him either, and can't quite shake the feeling that he is just trying to shock by being the anti-pedant. Can you trust someone who is so correct while claiming it doesn't matter at all? I'm with Sue (sorry, whispering gums [I nearly wrote guns then!])we need standards. I'm all for change, but not in my lifetime :-)

Hilary said...

Revel?? How the heck did that get there? That was me, Hilary!

Louise said...

I thought maybe you'd taken on an alter ego Hilary! I wasn't sure whether Stephen was having us on or not. I suspect so somehow, but aren't clever enough to get the joke.

Sue, I know what you mean with the je ne sais quoi. And I hate nucular, which is just straight out mispronunciation. I agree that we needs standards, but recognise of course that change will happen- though I only really embrace changes that I like and/or want. And like that young Revel said- I'm all for change too, just not in my lifetime.

Hilary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary said...

when I was in the US 17 years ago (yikes!) I heard a guy on the radio from one of the respected dictionaries saying that nucular was going to be (would eventually be?)offered as an alternative pronunciation because so many people say it that way. Good Lord!!! on those grounds, the plural for 'woman' will become 'woman' and we will have to add an extra 'ses' to pluralise words ending in 'st' as in 'they do great breakfastses'. Better go and have a lie down.