Who Deprecates English?

The first stage to OED darkness for the word is to be marked as deprecated; this is a sign that the word will soon disappear, and a synonym must be found from the nearest thesaurus before all meaning is lost!

We write, talk, text, and think in the language we use every day. For most people reading this post, that will be English. A communication tool that has a unique set of words which is forever growing, as anyone who has seen or read the yearly news story of new words included in the OED reminds us. OED by the way, for those of you who have not assimilated the abbreviation, is the Oxford English Dictionary.

photograph of an old document containing the first folio of the Old English poem Beowulf
The first folio of the heroic epic poem Beowulf in Old English.

Sometimes this symbolic construct that holds and constrains our thoughts gets modified. New words get added, and definitions get updated. Last year we had “phablet”, “bankability”, and “carnapping” among 500 or so other new additions. However, there is a more sinister side to the guardianship of our common tongue. The Deprecator! Who is this person that decides whether English words shall thrive in everyday language, or pass into historically incorrect spellchecked oblivion?

To answer this, we need to look at deprecation. So what is deprecation and why does it happen, surely the more words in our lexicon, the better toolset we have to define our thoughts and communicate them to others. Well, this is true of the mediums that are online, or stored in the collective consciousness. However when it comes to holding a dictionary in your hand, then there is by definition of human strength, logistics, and practicality a finite size to the amount of words that can fit in one volume. So to keep the OED a practical complement to correction and discovery a cull of the word forest is required now and then.

Paperback Oxford English Dictionary

The first stage to OED darkness for the word is to be marked as deprecated; this is a sign that the word will soon disappear, and a synonym must be found from the nearest thesaurus before all meaning is lost!

So back to the original question. Who Deprecates Engish? The answer dear reader is a sign of the times; a committee at the OED.