Friday December 01, 2017
more stories from this episode
There was a time when the word adult was just a noun.
The same is true of the word dialogue and, unironically, the word verb.
But thanks to email, texting and tweeting, language is changing. It’s becoming more informal and conversational. So now we’re verbing our nouns and adulting and dialoguing to our heart’s content.
“Just because, say, we don’t use periods at the end of sentences it doesn’t mean that our language is deteriorating.”
– Emmy J. Favilla, author A World Without Whom
Given the online influence on the way we use language, it’s not surprising that the online media outlet Buzzfeed has embraced the changes.
In 2014, to mixed reception, Buzzfeed released its own style guide, crafted by the company’s global copy chief, Emmy J. Favilla.
Favilla has now written a book on the topic, entitled A World Without Whom: The Essential Guide to Language in the Buzzfeed Age.
As she tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury, updating the rules of grammar does not mean the death of proper language as we know it.
“Just because, say, we don’t use periods at the end of sentences it doesn’t mean that our language is deteriorating,” says Favilla.
Words to embrace
In her book, Favilla says that new words are being created and that we need to embrace those new words — even if they break the rules.
Languaging is a “real word, despite what the dictionary may say,” says Favilla.
“Part of [the]
learning process, of course, is accepting that contemporary language is continually shifting,” Favilla writes.
Words like adulting, GIFable and wut are all OK with Favilla, as is the increased use of like and random, as in: ‘that’s so random!’
“I can’t think of any word I wouldn’t open the gate up for, to be honest,” says Favilla.
She says she’s asked by often asked writers and editors, ‘hey, is this a real word?’ and Favilla responds with the example of the word adulting.
“We’ve been using that word for years now. We can read it. And the letters all make a sound that we understand,” explains Favilla. “We all understand what the meaning of this word is.”
Favilla says that print dictionaries simply can’t keep up with the language changes in…