Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Ain't No Friend of Mine

If you haven't heard already the New Oxford American Dictionary has chosen their word of the year. What is it? 'Unfriend' - as in to remove someone you've 'friended' from your social networking sites. While this is an interesting pick that reflects our growing use of social networking sites (facebook, myspace, etc.), to quote another phrase culled from the internet: 'ur doin it wrong.'

Looks like people are getting fired up about the NOAD's choice of word because many people, myself included, have already been using the similar-yet-different word 'defriend'. In fact, I don't know a single person who says 'unfriend', yet according to the NOAD and Google, unfriend is searched for more often than defriend. Searching around online on this topic it's amusing to see people attempt to justify the usage of either word, often through complex grammatical reasoning ("unfriend is a negative participle!"). The folks at the NOAD say 'unfriend' has "real lex-appeal" which to me sounds like marketing-speak has invaded the dictionary world.

Ok, so the debate is fairly trivial, but that doesn't stop me from scratching my head at their choice in this matter. It would be like if a dictionary came out and said the proper word to use regarding the influx of cash into the economy by the federal government was to be called 'catalyst' instead of 'stimulus'. I wonder if this will turn out to be a generational thing. Perhaps one day I'll use the word 'defriend' around my grandchildren who will wince upon hearing my anachronistic usage. So, for those of us out there who do use facebook or whatever, what's your preference. Do you prefer to unfriend or defriend?


ninquelote said...

I will have to say, Mr. Herr, I know how linguistically in tuned you are, and I was just as perplexed as you when NOAD came out with 'unfriend' as word of the year. I don't really use Facebook or anything, but my wife does, and even she thought it was stupid. This is definitely a generational thing, but not in a good way. For some reason the current generation (of which I try not to associate myself) thinks it's hip to misspell, mispronounce, or just plain fuck up words already in effect in society today and think that they've come up with something cool and original. I say they are a bunch of mentally retarded kids trying to win a hockey championship.

Little Earl said...

Hey, don't insult Sarah Palin's children like that.

For my part, I have occasionally heard people use "defriend" and have never heard anyone use "unfriend." My word of choice is "de-I-stay-the-hell-off-Facebook-because-if-I-don't-have-your-email-address-that-means-I-don't-really-want-to-be-talking-to-you-friend."

ninquelote said...

I'm gonna have to start using that word. I have never heard anyone say unfriend either and I refuse to use it as long as word processors keep underlining it in red. And when that happens, I will only use it to write the sentence, "Remember when NOAD said unfriend was the word of the year back in aught-nine? That was about as retarded as deciding to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court."

Little Earl said...

I could be mistaken, but the title of your post is a reference to Elvis' "Hound Dog," no?

Herr Zrbo said...

You are correct LE.

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