Friday, 6 August 2010

Non-words, innit?

Wurfing, precuperate, polkadodge: are you familiar with any of these words? - Or perhaps I should ask: are you familiar with any of these "NON-words"?
"Non-words" are said to be terms widely used by people today but which are not considered as "words" because they haven't made it yet into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Oxford University Press has judged them to be "unsuitable" because there is not enough evidence that people are using them.
Graphic designer Luke Ngakane has recently uncovered expressions like freegans, earworm, or dringle - terms which he apparently uses in his everyday speech or has heard spoken by other people - as part of a research project for London's Kingston University. He hopes that today's "non-words" will become "proper words" in the future by being incorporated into the OED.
Joined by Iain Aitch and presenters Charlie Stayt and Susanna Reid, Mr Ngakane discusses his findings in an interesting BBC Breakfast interview that you can watch here.
If you want to know more about this topic, you can also read the articles posted on the Metro website and on the Telegraph one.

Just one little thought: why should "experts" classify expressions such as the ones we mentioned above under "non-words" if people seem to be using them? Are words recognised as such only when they are included in a dictionary?