From smoke signals to carrier pigeons and 6-pound cell phones that resemble a brick to the fall of MySpace, the way we communicate with each other has changed significantly over time thanks to technological advancements.
As technology and connectivity changes, we must change. If you want your communication to be relevant, it's imperative to keep up. With the evolution of the internet, communication is moving at a faster speed than ever. Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's Editor-At-Large, believes that more writing is being done by more people than ever before—which is cause for constant education and adaptation.
As our language, technology, and culture morphs, so must our emails, blog posts, website content, and social media posts to name a few.
FLOTUS—seriously? Collectively, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster have made over 1,200 new words official.
Our culture's vocabulary is being validated and documented each year. For us writers that mean we have to decide if these new words fit into our style guides and brand voices. It also gives us freedom to use more culturally relevant words. Is that exciting or exhausting? Doesn't matter; it's reality.
You've probably heard this, but it's worth repeating. It was recently announced that Dictionary.com added 300 new words to their online database. Yep. And believe it or not, this updated list includes Black Lives Matter, Burkini, alt-right, and cold brew. Even FLOTUS (a nickname for the first lady of the United States) is a legit term. These words have become the norm in our culture, so it's logical to add them. If we're using these words, we might as well have them documented and properly defined, right?
Even though the newfound legitimacy of some of these words may amuse you, Dictionary.com lexicographer Jane Solomon tells CNN that making the list is serious business. Approving new words is an intense and involved process that includes different research methods.
Are you curious about the new words? Check out a few of Dictionary.com's Dictionary.com's favorites.
Along with Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 new words. They've got binge-watch to Seussian covered. All of 1,000 words (some of which are internet-bred slang terms) have been observed, collected, and researched, with many examples used in context to write definitions that explain both basic meanings and specific usage.
Both resources—used regularly and relentlessly by writers—have made some pretty bold moves this year. And the next time your stuck-up grammar-nerd friend says hangry isn't a word, just send her to Dictionary.com.
AP Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style make some game-changing updates
This has been a big style-update year at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) meeting. The Associated Press usually announces its Stylebook changes at the meeting every year, but this year the Chicago Manual of Style also announced updates, which only happens every once in a while.
One of the big AP Stylebook changes shocked some but pleased most. It feels awkward, but it's a solution for so many uncomfortable situations. The AP Stylebook now allows writers to use they as a singular pronoun.
For example: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's gender identity isn't what's on their record.
Instead of: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's gender identity isn't what's on his record. (Feel sexist.)
And instead of: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's gender identity isn't what's on his or her record. (Feels clumsy.)
Especially instead of: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's gender identity isn't what's on his/her record. (Feels confusing.)
If you can't bring yourself to use they; save yourself the stress by rewriting the sentence altogether. For the majority of us, though, this is a game-changer.
One important change to the Chicago Manual of Style—despite their aversion to hyphenation—was the announcement that decision-making (which was previously two words, also known as an open compound) and head-hunting are to be explicitly hyphenated.
Also, writers are now free to use the abbreviation US for United States as a noun as well as an adjective. For example, you would have written: In the United States, we are free to worship as we please. The Manual states that it's also OK to write: In the US, we are free to worship as we please.
Discover all the major AP Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style updates with Grammar Girl (every writer's best friend). She lays out all highlights nicely.
We're just getting warmed up
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of other areas of communication to examine, but we'd like to share a few in particular with you—like chat platforms, workflows, and customized brand style guides. We'll touch on these and more in upcoming weeks.
In the meantime, learn something new about Inbound Marketing. (Hint—it cares about things like compelling content and relevant communication. And it just so happens to be our specialty.)