I Missed My Calling

Today’s Daily Prompt got me thinking about words. New words, specifically.

When I learned the Oxford Dictionaries issue quarterly updates, I presumed it was because (1.) these newly-minted words are much too important to wait a whole year for, or (2.) they have to justify lexicographers’ paychecks.

After viewing a list of new additions, my money’s on #2.

Here’s why: a couple words added in 2014 were merch and queso. Had I read merch somewhere, I would have first assumed it was “march” misspelled. But when “march” made no sense, a little third-grade trick would have saved the day: using the word in context. Granted, I don’t often speak like the example Oxford gave (“people mobbed the merch stand to buy T-shirts”), but I’m smart enough to figure it out. And queso I would have understood from those obnoxious Ro-Tel commercials. That, and quesadilla.

No, it wasn’t urgency that prompted the updates so it must have been the paychecks.

Since lexicographers seem focused on pop culture—and clearly they’re grasping for new material—I’ve got two nominations for them.

Ports and shants.

The words are interchangeable. They refer to those sagging garments you see on 13-to-23-year-old guys—those sagging garments that look like a combination of pants and shorts. Ports and shants. Makes perfect sense. I realize a snafu is possible with ports, but in context the reader or listener would discern between clothing and a harbor.

Is he wearing pants? Or shorts? With "ports" or "shants," there's no need to decide! Photo: Flickr

Is he wearing pants? Or shorts? With “ports” or “shants,” there’s no need to decide!
Photo: Flickr

According to mymajors.com the average salary of a lexicographer is over $70,000, so I think they should show a bit more ingenuity than trolling the Web or eavesdropping at Starbucks for new material. But if they’re ever in a bind—like if their Internet connection goes down—I give them permission to use ports and shants. No royalty required.

 

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