We think all is not well when ‘LOL’ and ‘OMG’ enter the official English dictionary

We need to start learning the difference between words. There are words like “metonymical discontinuity” reserved for formal documents such as research papers.

There are words that we need to recognize and use only as slang terms – such as LOL, OMG, <3 and IMHO (In my humble/honest opinion).

But these terms have now bridged the divide between formal and informal since their grand entrance into The Oxford English Dictionary, as reported by The Huffington Post on March 23.

This change from “slang” to “word” raises interesting questions about the nature of language.

When Shakespeare invented 1700 words only 500 years ago, most of which are still part of our daily usage, few questioned his legitimacy.

Most of us today cannot believe that words like “bloody,” “hurry” or “road” were invented by the Bard; they are indistinguishable from “normal” English and remain intrinsic to it (“indistinguishable” and “intrinsic” are, indeed, more Shakespearean inventions).

But now that OMG and LOL have been slotted comfortably next to words like “omnipotent” and “loquacious,” we have to learn the difference between “real words” and simple acronyms.

There is some discrepancy about the idea that LOL and OMG are somehow legitimate words that deserve recognition in the official dictionary of the English language.

If these new terms can enter our official vernacular, what does it say about such contractions as “b/c” and “w/”?

The upcoming generation, believe it or not, is already beginning to use such informal terms in their English papers.

We need to see a difference between what real words are, and what are simply phrases and contractions that deserve to remain in the informal world of text messages and Facebook – not in the official documentation of our language.

There is a line that needs to be drawn. While we should celebrate the evolution of language and the myriad of colorful and ebullient ways we express ourselves, we should also leave room for “old school” methods of communication.

We stand to lose the basics of English in the face of these rapid changes. So before we can LOL, we need to laugh out loud.

Shakespeare might say that “brevity is the soul of wit,” but we say that longevity is the heart of enduring, intelligent language.