July 9, 2009

Internet, globalization shape new words

New words added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary show the influence of the Internet and globalization on U.S. English, its publishers said.

A sample list of 100 new words released by the publisher Thursday includes some words and expressions that have been around for years or even decades but have gained wider currency because of the Internet, The Guardian reported. They include sock puppet, coined as early as 1959, and flash mob, which can be traced to 1987.

There is also the usual new crop of words, this time including entries like vlog, a blog containing video.

Reggaeton, a word coined to describe Puerto Rican music mixing Reggae and rap, and haram, the Arabic word for foods forbidden by Islamic law, demonstrate the diversity of American English, the reort said. So do acai, a South and Central American fruit newly popular because of its supposed dietary virtues, and goji, an Asian berry popular as a drink flavor.

Other new additions include staycation, locavore (a person who eats locally grown foods) and frenemy (somebody who acts like a friend but is actually an enemy). The last word was used by British-American writer Jessica Mitford in a 1970s essay, in which she said it had been coined by one of her sisters decades earlier.