Geek dictionary corner at Nine Worlds 2016
Nine Worlds is an inclusive multi-genre convention for ‘books, films, TV shows, gaming, comics, cosplay, crafts, sciences, fanfic, and the culture and creativity that underlie them all’. This was the third summer that I have skipped along to join in: here are my dispatches from 2014 and 2015. Besides running an academic panel on foreign languages in genre fiction, singing along at the Once More With Feeling karaoke with hundreds of other Buffy fans, puzzling over the fiendish knitting quiz, and debating tropes in Star Wars and Jessica Jones, I set up geek dictionary corner once more, to collect all those words that Nine Worlds folk thought should be in the dictionary but aren’t, and report back on the progress of the previous years’ suggestions.
Which words have already made it into the dictionary?
I was delighted to be able to report that, since last year, many of the suggestions made were matched by the outcomes of our own lexicographical research. Over that time, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has published entries for genderfluid, agender, Mx and some words with cis–, also pwn and a whole collection of acronyms and initialisms (AFK, CBA, FFS…). Meanwhile, Nine Worlds suggesters were delighted to hear that Oxford Dictionaries has found sufficient evidence to add meeple, rage–quit, rape culture, slut-shaming, manic pixie dream girl, AFAB and AMAB, and tink.
The strongest candidates
Here are all the suggestions from 2016:
As ever, the subject areas of gaming, gender and race, media, craft, and politics were strongly represented. A number of the strongest candidates for future inclusion in Oxford Dictionaries from this year are two-word phrases which, although we have the component parts, do not yet constitute entries of their own: signal boost, punching down, imposter syndrome, cultural appropriation – though we did already have virtue signalling and warm fuzzy. Other suggestions made here that are already in our dictionaries include dox, meatspace (though not yet fleshbag), gamification, and brogrammer.
In some cases, it is new senses that our lexicographers will consider: entries already exist for salty, handwaving, spoons, hoovering, and narc, but not with the meanings intended here. Other suggestions are entirely new, some from Japanese manga culture (senpai and sugoi), others from identity politics (redpill, racebending, transmisogyny), and popular culture criticism (sexy lamp test is my particular favourite – defined by comics writer Kelly Sue DeConnick “never mind the Bechdel test, try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft. They have to be protagonists, not devices.”) And not to forget the Pokélexicon that’s suddenly sprung up – but will it stick around for long enough to make it in? Tune in next year…