Scrabble just added 6,500 new words to the official word list. For those of you who play, that can mean more opportunities to use that Q on a triple-word square. Good news all around! But, does this mean that a word that is allowable in Scrabble should automatically make it into the office?
Of course not. Just because Scrabble says something is a word doesn't mean using it in a business setting is an appropriate thing to do. Sure, if you're discussing Inuits at the office, go ahead and throw out "quinzhee," a newly approved word which means a snow shelter (which would undoubtedly be a game winner in an actual Scrabble game), though don't be shocked if your co-workers look at you blankly. However, the following Scrabble approved words? Save them for the weekend competition.
1. Bezzy, as in best friend. "Jane is my bezzy," should never come up. Come to think of it, leave out "Jane is my BFF" as well. We are not in seventh grade anymore.
2. Lolz, as in to laugh. Just say "laugh," for goodness's sake. And does anybody actually say that? I've only seen it written and even then it grates on my nerves.
3. Newb, as in newbie. "Look at the mistakes the newb made!" Please, call them interns or their moms will call and yell at you.
4. Twerk, as in what Miley Cyrus does. This one has been said in the office for a long time, but I just wish it would stop. Not so much the word, but the fact that people do it. Stop doing it and we'll be able to stop discussing it.
5. Podiumed, which means you placed first, second, or third. You know, you got on the podium? Can we just say, "I came in third place in the marketing competition!"? Please?
6. Thanx, as in thanks, because it's so difficult to type both a K and an S in the same word. This one has been around a long time as well, but it should go away as well.
7. Ridic, as in, it's ridiculous we can't say complete words anymore.
8. Lotsa, as in a lot of. Sure, go ahead and say it, but if you write in an email, the ghost of your high school English teacher will come back to haunt you, even if she's still alive.
9. Any of the new onomatopoeic interjections. Listen, if you can work the actual phrase "onomatopoeic interjections" into a meaningful work-related conversation, then I bow to your greatness. But leave these out of your business communication: augh, blech, grr, waah, and yeesh.
10. Ixnay, as in the pig Latin form of nix. Pig Latin has been around at least 200 years, as we know from the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote letters in it. (Heaven help us all if Jefferson had had Facebook; he would have been all over the new slang.) Just stick to English or Spanish, or whatever language is necessary to get the work done. Besides, the whole purpose of pig Latin is to conceal things from your little brother --although, I bet it could serve the same purpose with the "newb" as well.
Why so much slang? The Guardian quotes the head of language content at Collins, Helen Newstead: "Dictionaries have always included formal and informal English, but it used to be hard to find printed evidence of the use of slang words. Now people people use slang in social media posts, tweets, blogs, comments, text messages -- you name it -- so there's a host of evidence for informal varieties of English that simply didn't exist before."
In other words, I blame Facebook and Twitter and blogging in general, which is pretty much the cause of all cultural downward spirals.
Now, of course, all of this advice is dependent upon the culture in which you work. Some workplaces are formal and some are not. Follow the lead of your boss and match your language to fit the company culture. At a new job, wait a few days to see if you can work these words into your conversation, and if people are amenable, challenge them to a Scrabble match in the break room. If you do, may you podium.