Keeping Up With the Web’s New Lingo

From BusinessWeek:

The World Wide Web makes Tom Pitoniak’s job harder. As an associate editor at Merriam-Webster, publisher of dictionaries and other reference books, Pitoniak must distinguish between words that legitimately should be in the dictionary and all that other matter sloshing around the English language: slang, industry jargon, onomatopoeic fillers, brand names, buzzwords, abbreviations, and the like. The new Web—flooded as it is with blogs, message boards, and Web pages containing the computer literati’s conversations—is awash with such words. “It’s kind of dizzying,” says Pitoniak.

Telling the difference between a true word and a nonword was once as easy as reading. Time was, a cluster of sequential letters constituted a word if it appeared in printed sources a few hundred times or so over a few years and had an accepted meaning. Not anymore.

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